To commemorate Presidents Day, CSPAN conducted a poll among 91 historians asking them to rank America’s first 44 Presidents across ten categories. President Obama, who like his predecessors, was ranked based on “Individual Leadership Characteristics” like Crisis Leadership, Moral Authority, Relations with Congress, and Vision Setting/Agenda, was dubbed the 12th best President in U.S. History.
One month prior, the National Urban League gave President Obama and his Administration a rank of “Excellent” in the organization’s first Presidential Administration Scorecard. “The National Urban League has regarded the first African-American Presidency with special significance, not simply because of its trailblazing status, but also because of the unique conditions under which President Barack Obama took office and served his two terms,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “He inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, and was faced with Congressional opposition unprecedented in its intensity and sinister nature.”
Upon leaving office, President Obama had a higher approval rating than Ronald Reagan, and was surpassed in popularity only by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton. During the Obama years, America’s economy added more than 11 million jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped from 7.6% to 4.7% generally, and from 12.6% to 7.8% for African Americans. The high school graduation rate for African Americans increased from 66.1% to 85%. With 614,000 fewer long-term unemployed persons on the labor rolls wages have risen by 3.4 percent. More than 16 million Americans who were uninsured prior to “Obamacare” now have health care coverage, with the uninsured rate for African Americans cut by more than half.
“We asked ourselves not only whether the nation as a whole is better off than it was eight years ago, but also whether Black America is better off,” Morial said. “ The answer to both questions is, unequivocally, yes.” While the Administration was given a variety of ratings from “Superior,” “Excellent,” “Good,” “Fair” or “Poor” on a wide range of policy areas including jobs and the economy, education, criminal justice, civil rights, housing and others, the National Urban League ultimately dubbed President Obama’s Administration as “Excellent,” it’s second highest status.
As the 12th best president in U.S. history, President Obama ranks above leaders like Bill Clinton, Andrew Jackson, and George H.W. Bush. He falls behind Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.