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Best president for the economy

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Posted: 6 pm ET

The economy was front and center in the Republican presidential campaign and, now that Democratic President Barack Obama has been re-elected, how does he rank with other recent presidents on economic improvement?

Since World War II, Democrats have done better than Republicans when measured on 17 indicators of economic success, according to Richard J. Carroll, author of "The President as Economist: Scoring Economic Performance From Harry Truman to Barack Obama."

Presidential economic performance

Harry Truman 176.0
John Kennedy 100.0
Lyndon Johnson 51.5
Dwight Eisenhower 40.7
Gerald Ford 39.5
Bill Clinton 14.5
Richard Nixon 2.8
Ronald Reagan -23.2
Barack Obama -68.9
George H. Bush -73.1
Jimmy Carter -111.4
George W. Bush -148.4
Source: Bloomberg.

But after his first administration, Obama can't claim to be among the successful: He scores fourth from the bottom of Carroll's list. The only Democrat with a worse score is Jimmy Carter. Father-and-son Republicans George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush also fall further down on the list.

The presidents with the three highest scores are all Democrats: Harry Truman is No. 1, followed by John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The first Republican to show up on the list is Dwight Eisenhower, at No. 4.
In an article in Bloomberg, Carroll explains that he scored the 12 post-war presidents based on indicators including GDP growth, unemployment rate, the number of people living below the poverty line, increase in the Dow Jones industrial average, savings and investment rates, exports and trade balances, federal budget growth, and debt and federal taxes as a share of GDP.

He penalized them if the federal budget grew faster than the economy during their terms. He also counted higher tax revenue as a share of GDP against them. The analysis doesn't take into account the first year in office because the president is likely dealing with policies from the previous administration, Carroll notes.

The chart provides the scores of all 12 presidents since World War II. How does your favorite rank?

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51 Comments
Clarence
November 09, 2012 at 6:42 am

I for one am dissappointed with the election results! However, I am also very tired of the mud slinging and lying that we witnessed during the election. It is high time that all Americans unite behind our leaders and regain what I call "PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN". For God's sake folks, let us go back to honesty and respect for each other! Please maintain a sense of humor; life is too short not to! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Mike
November 09, 2012 at 6:34 am

There are some variables for each of these presidents that influenced the economy during their years in office....that they ultimately had no infuence on nor could they control.
And......President Obama shouldn't be on this list, because his term(s) in office are yet not complete.

Thomas Krick
November 09, 2012 at 5:07 am

Your analogy has no relevance as you have it calculated. Shame on you for presenting such a ridiculous report.

Marie Welch
November 09, 2012 at 4:01 am

Nixon froze food and gas which improved the economy but he is not on the list.Not good report on Carter yet he and his wife cut exspenses down on White House expenses to do his part for tax payers, for that reason I praise him for.I had hopes for Obama but he made a very poor judgement thinking freezing Soc. Sec., especially if they were getting $10,000 a yr. and prices still going up on food and gas--ouch.

John
November 09, 2012 at 1:42 am

I don't agree with you at all David. The republicans were voted in in 2010 to get a balanced budget. If you look at the way we have spent and borrowed, the only way to come close to a balanced budget is to raise taxes. With the state of unemployment, plus the 49.5 million on food stamps, and add to it the total cost of Obamacare, we have no way to counter the cost unless he raises taxes on everyone. I wish he would reel back Obamacare until we can get the debt down and be able to manage the debt better, but that will not happen. My prediction for the next 4 years is more gridlock, higher unemployment, and a debt that reaches 22 trillion. ( remember the last jobs report, 173,00 jobs created in sept. but the first time unemployment claims were 363,000 355,000 369,000 363,000. Thats 1,450,000 unemployment claims for 173,000 jobs....not too good!

Jack
November 09, 2012 at 12:52 am

I do hope Obama does better with his second term, and fully agree with David about the sad state of affairs of party partisan politics. Actually considering the mess the Obama inherited from George W., I think it was too much to expect any president to recover in 4 years. And please quit blaming Clinton for the housing crisis. Even if I did agree with Elise, It wasn't exactly like any of the decisions that were made regarding sub-prime financing were a secret. George W. had 8 years to deal with it and did nothing.

Elise
November 09, 2012 at 12:06 am

Funny that Clinton is at a 14.5 considering he had a republican congress balance the budget. He was furthermore helped greatly by the internet boom. I'm not in any way supporting Bush's fiscal policies as he was not fiscally conservative; however, he deserves better than -148. He's only getting that rating because of the housing crash, but people too often forget that the housing crash was caused by Clinton and his 1999 expansion of freddie mac and fannie mae to low income families being able to acquire sub-prime loans.

cory
November 08, 2012 at 11:56 pm

... Bush made a lot of bad decisions, I tend to agree completely with Ron Paul, While I don't agree on the war on Iraq I do agree that the men accountable for 9/11 and the acts of terrorism against the USA should come to justice, but there comes a time that you have to stop blaming the past and and become accountable for what has been done to help the problem. I am registered as an independant voter and I do not vote a straight ticket, I vote for the man and his decisions not his party.. there have been some great dem. presidents but Obama isn't one of them, and just to put it out there, no I'm not racist.. there are plenty of black me qualified to be president.. Obama isn't one of them. but that's just my opinion not every ones. I hope he does make a "good" change in his second term but if I said I believe he will I'd be lying, but I completely hope he does.

David
November 08, 2012 at 9:37 pm

This also have to do with the Republicans. Tell me what past president that they said "our main goal is for him to be a ONE TERM PRESIDENT" not to help the american people and they did everything in thier power to try. Now that most of the american people see what they tried to do, They want to help him. 89% of them should not be voted back in. See how they work with him now.
Sad very sad. They put us last.

John Anderson
November 08, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Hey Terri,
Quote: "The analysis doesn't take into account the first year in office because the president is likely dealing with policies from the previous administration, Carroll notes."