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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
Tweet 97
November 09, 2012 at 8:15 am

Hey Biff,

Whose fault was it really for these numbers. Think about it. GW Bush signed the contract approving outsourcing not President Obama. He President obama is trying to do is reverse the numbers to our favor. Before it get better it will get worse.

Tweet 97
November 09, 2012 at 8:13 am

Hey Gary,
If romny got in office you wouln't even remember how to spell 401k. The president did not start, he is simply trying to end this mess. President Obama, is trying to keep jobs in the US, so we can provide for our family. If I recall correctly, Romney was for oursourcing. Think about it. people don't know what they want, in one hand you are agains't outsourcing (hint, if outsourcing, you probable will not have a job, or better yer will be work at walmart or MCDonald) if we dont outsource, you will be able to not only keep your coochy job, but also keep a 401k.

Tweet 97
November 09, 2012 at 8:07 am

You know guys it really funny how you are downing President Obama, but what you fell to realize is that when he got in office, this country was already in heavy debt. He kept us away from hitting rock bottom with the worst depression ever. Give the man a breack. Everything he tried to do vas voted against by your people. It took Bill Clinton two terms to take us out of debt, and george w bush two terms to push us back into debt again. If it wasn't for obama, this country would have been in worser shape. So before you pass judgement, give him a chance to prove himself. I don't really care if he is white, black, yellow, or blue as long as he get his fair chance like all the others.

Gary Rozz
November 09, 2012 at 8:00 am

Just wanted to say thanks to the new class we now have the stupid class. Cant wait to see how far down my 401k goes in the next 4 years. Thanks to the stupid class..........

LOL
November 09, 2012 at 7:58 am

I love it. Another idiot trying to breakdown administration progress and Bush is on the bottom. When will you people realize that NONE of the other president's on this list had to deal with HALF of the trama that George W dealt with? 9/11 & KATRINA should come to mind. I don't agree with the war on Iraq, but I don't believe it was a war for oil. It was based on the intelligence given to him at the time and he did what he thought was right. If it was a war for oil, then why were we paying so much for gas? I didn't vote for Obama, because I don't think that he can handle this economy and he is spending spending spending way too much. He spent more his first YEAR as president then GW spent in 8 years, so come on people, why is he at the bottom?

Don W
November 09, 2012 at 7:48 am

Yo Biff

When George Bush was elected Gas was 96 cents a gallion during his administration it hit a high of $3.28. I do not see how it doubled during the Obama Administration I have not paid $6 a gallion

Carl
November 09, 2012 at 7:45 am

What you are seeing is a destruction of the greatest country on earth by a communist leader, obama, and his puppet master george soros this country will not recover from this destruction and that is soro and obama plans to do.

Jack Burton
November 09, 2012 at 7:23 am

Biff - you forgot to mention that Obuma also more than doubled the national deficit while racking up those other miserable accomplishments.

Tom H
November 09, 2012 at 7:14 am

Timing is everything. The country's economy can be impacted for decades because of the programs launched by a single president. The Affordable Health Care Act will not really show its impact in full measure for a few years. If people think Obama is crabbing because of what he inherited, wait 'til the next guy comes along and has to deal with a whole litany of expensive social reforms launched by this administration. No one; not Bill Clinton, or possibly even GOD, will be able to turn this mess around.

Biff
November 09, 2012 at 6:57 am

Some research results have shown that red wine is good for your health. Others state that is not so. A reseach will define the results that you wish to find. Unemployment was 6.4% when Obama took over in 2008. It peaked at over 10% in 2011. These facts by th US Dept. of Labor. Gas prices have almost doubled among other goods. Income is down for many households. I just want to know what you were smoking when you arrived at these results. I would like to get some!