Former President Barack Obama was ranked 12th best among 43 former presidents in in C-SPAN’s third-ever survey of dozens of presidential historians.
The network asked 91 presidential historians to rank every former president on 10 leadership attributes. C-SPAN also performed the survey in 2000 and 2009.
Obama ranked favorably compared to his immediate predecessors: George W. Bush ranked at No. 33 (up from 36 in 2009), George H.W. Bush was No. 20 (down from 18), and Bill Clinton held steady at No. 15.
Ronald Reagan was judged the ninth best president of all time, up from No. 10 in 2009.
In a press release accompanying the results, historian Richard Norton Smith, an academic adviser for the project, noted that five of the top 10 judged presidents in the American pantheon served between 1933 and 1969.
“It reinforces Franklin Roosevelt’s claim to be not only the first modern president but the man who, in reinventing the office, also established the criteria by which we judge our leaders,” he said.
C-SPAN asked historians to rate each president, on a scale of 1-10, on 10 difference leadership attributes: “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Setting An Agenda,” “Pursued Equal Justice for All,” and “Performance Within the Context of His Times.”