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President John F. Kennedy

JFK, Reagan, Clinton rated top modern presidents

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President John F. Kennedy

According to a new poll John F. Kennedy is still the favorite president of the last 50 years, while Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are ranked second and third.

In a survey, performed by Gallup, 85 percent of those asked felt that Kennedy has performed well in office. This is about the same figures that Gallup discovered in 2006. Since 1990 Kennedy has consistently come in first place when it comes to the question of how he performed in office.

Ronald Reagan was ranked second with 74 percent approving of his performance. The tough times he weathered in both his terms paid off. Although his job approval rating dropped to about 40 percent during the 1982 recession and also during the Iran-Contra scandal these periods didn’t seem to stain public memory.

Bill Clinton’s rating rose this year, while Jimmy Carter’s dropped. Back in 2006 Carter and Clinton both got a 61 percent rating in the Gallup poll. They were tied in third place. This year Clinton has stayed in third place with a rating of 69 percent while Carter has dropped to sixth place with just 52 percent.

Despite the cloud over Clinton’s presidency in 1998 with the Monica Lewinsky affair, Clinton still got a rating of 66 percent in 2001. This is due to the booming economy at the time. Although the majority approved of his performance as president many did not see him a “honest and trustworthy”. In this question he got only 24 percent in 1999.

In 2008 his ranking sunk to its lowest point as he aggressively supported his wife Hillary Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination against Barack Obama.  When it appeared that things were going Obama’s way he reacted with anger and was accused of engaging in racial politics.

However, in recent years his stock has soared in popularity, this was evident in the value the Democrat put on him on the campaign trail for the midterm elections. Even some Republican’s were growing a soft spot for him. A New York Times piece said “Many Republicans with a deep animus for President Obama find their hearts aflutter with the memory of a former leader. He was a compassionate conservative, a guy who cared about free trade, a man who reached across the aisle."

George W. Bush had a surprising burst of popularity. His rating went from 54 percent in 2006 to 64 percent this year. Also Lyndon Johnson’s ratings jumped from 41 percent to 49 percent.

Unsurprisingly Richard Nixon ranks last in Gallup’s survey with just a 29 percent approval. Although he managed to rehabilitate his image and be seen as a kind of elder statesman in his later years his popularity never recovered from the Watergate scandal.

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