C-SPAN has released the second version of its ranking of American presidents. 64 historians, political scientists, and other professional observers of the presidency participated in the survey. The first version of the survey was released in 2000.
- Lincoln, Washington, the Roosevelts, and Truman continue to occupy the top five positions in the rankings.
- Thomas Jefferson holds steady at 7. As one of my former students emailed to me the other day regarding Jefferson's ranking: "What does a brother have to do to get some love for the writer of the Declaration of Independence?" How does Truman rank in the top 5 and Jeff can't squeeze in?
- Ronald Reagan cracked the top ten.
- George H.W. Bush is creeping up the rankings moving two spots to 18.
- Bill Clinton moved up six spots since the 2000 survey to 15.
- U.S. Grant had the steepest climb of any president from 33 to 23.
- Grover Cleveland dropped four slots to 21, the steepest drop of any president, followed by Woodrow Wilson's drop of three slots to 9 and Jimmy Carter's three slot drop to 25.
- George W. Bush begins his ranking at 36--not terribly surprising given his weak standing with the public upon exiting the White House. It will be interesting to see if he will enjoy a Trumanesque ride up the rankings or continue to lag near the bottom with the likes of Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan.
- Speaking of Harding, Johnson, and Buchanan, they continue to compose the bottom three once again.
- William Henry Harrison is ranked 39th. I'm not sure what he could have possibly done in is one month of office, most of it lying on his back dying from pneumonia, to justify any ranking.
- Same goes for James Garfield ranked 28. Garfield was shot only four months into his first term and died from his wound two months later, not long enough to have any real impact on the country.