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Americans Say Reagan Is Greatest President, Poll Finds

3 years ago
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Number 40 is No. 1. Just in time for Presidents Day, Ronald Reagan tops a list of the nation's greatest chief executives, ahead of Abraham Lincoln, according to a new survey out Friday.

The Gallup Poll puts Reagan, with 19 percent, in the top spot for the third time. Reagan also occupied the position in 2001 and 2005 -- and he has been in the top three eight times since Gallup started asking the "greatest president" question 12 years ago.

Lincoln garnered 14 percent, followed very closely by Bill Clinton, with 13 percent.

John F. Kennedy, who was on top in 2000 and tied with Lincoln in 2003, came in fourth this year.

The country's first president, George Washington, is fifth on the list.

Gallup said respondents are more likely to mention recent office-holders because "the average American constantly hears about and from presidents in office during their lifetime, and comparatively little about historical presidents long dead."

Four of the five most recent presidents are in the top ten this year: Obama (No. 7), George W. Bush (No. 10), Clinton, and Reagan.

Not surprisingly, the results break along partisan lines, with Democrats and Republicans each most likely to choose a greatest president within their own party.

Independents name Lincoln and then Reagan as top choices.

Read the complete Gallup results here.
Filed Under: Polls, Poll Watch, White House

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572 Comments

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moneydude9

He was the greatest.

March 13 2011 at 12:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mulligan603

Reagan? Really? Iran-Contra should have put him in prison. Too many stupid Americans were polled. Worst environmental record in history.

February 26 2011 at 7:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
celtcalgal

reagan was a terrorist collaborator--the iran hostage crisis--thats how he won the white house

February 26 2011 at 12:12 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
tanksorrelhorse

Washington should be first. He risked everything... up to and including his life. Lincoln should be last. He caused many thousands of Americans to die needlessly. Reagan is by far the best in modern times.

February 25 2011 at 11:56 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
David Mitchell

As an historian, I am always amazed that the one indispensible American (president or not) who made the US democratic republic possible, George Washington, almost never ranks as the best. Many of the recents - Clinton, George HW Bush, etc.,- will come and go as the tides of history shift, but Washington will endure. These poll results always reflect the lack of history teaching in our schools. No George Washington, no US as we know it.

February 25 2011 at 6:28 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
lar77jan

The choice of Reagan as the greatest President only shows the power of printed lies.
Larry

February 25 2011 at 5:30 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
tony

ONE MORE FOR THE GIPPER, RIP 'MR REGAN'

February 24 2011 at 9:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
tropicland1

Bill clinton was the best, He balance the budjet

February 24 2011 at 6:12 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tropicland1's comment
ialbel

Bill Clinton was trying to pass some huge spending initiatives, but the Republicans stopped him. As much as the popular version of history paints Clinton as fiscally conservative, it is an impression he did not earn. Sorry, but the facts do not support the contention. If Hillary's version of Obamacare had gathered momentum do you think the budget would have been balanced? Therefore is the proof that this was not his driving ambition. So give Clinton credit for the budget and remember he "never has sex with that girl."

February 24 2011 at 8:21 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
tony

he did after many bills submitted by the gop let one in and look what happend

February 24 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teecee656

Ronald Reagan made the entire world a much safer place. The USA had over 25,000 nuclear warheads, most strategic warheads had the same power as a train of box cars filled with TNT that stretched 2,000 miles (3000 kilometers) long. Three Ohio class "boomers" could destroy the entire USSR with their 24 missles with up to 10 independently targeted reentry vehicles. Just having these weapons is dangerous. We only have to look at the "Broken Arrow" incidents in Palomares Spain or Thule Greenland to realize the danger. Just one accident, that triggered a nuclear blast would have ended civilization. If either nuclear power detected a blast, there would be no half measures, the entire arsenal would have been unleashed. Reagan's vision and conviction as well as his determination and tact in major arms reduction brought freedom to millions of Eastern Europeans, spread democracy and ended a 30 year cold war. Those of us who lived through the Cuban crisis and saw the empty supermarket shelves, the threats of the Cold War were very real. Had the arms race continued, one can only speculate on the eventual outcome. I do remember Khrushchev pounding his fists at the United Nations and telling the United States "We will bury you". Had the nuclear buttons been pushed, socio-economic deferences and domestic policies would have made no differences. What the blasts and radiation missed, the resulting nuclear winter would have finished.

February 24 2011 at 1:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
xiaogermaine8

Nancy you pay taxes? As a foreigner we agree but are suprised at Clinton being rated so high. We think about his Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac housing policies that really are the reason for these problems you have now. Well anyway it will continue to Change and if it is true thay vote for recent more than the founders than OBAMA is not doing so well. We foreigners do not find him very well fitted for the Job. Compared to Regan he has made so many economic blunders that will, Nancy, only make the people like the Prisident and his men in office rich. Humm.

February 24 2011 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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