Americans Rank Obama Top President in Their Lifetimes

(CN) – Nearly half of Americans name Barack Obama as the best or second-best president in their lifetimes, with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan following closely behind, the Pew Research Center reported Wednesday.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a leadership summit in New Delhi, India, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Pew researchers asked respondents to select their first and second choices for which president in their lifetimes did the best job in office. While Obama was ranked the highest in the survey overall – 44 percent said he is the best or second-best president of their lifetimes – it revealed generational and partisan differences in presidential preference.

In the survey of 2,002 adults conducted between June 5-12, Pew found that a plurality of Americans (31 percent) viewed Obama as the best president in their lifetimes, and an additional 13 percent picked him as their second choice for the best president.

Ronald Reagan was Americans’ next top choice at 21 percent, with 10 percent naming him as their second choice for the best president in their lifetimes.

Bill Clinton also had a strong showing in the survey, with 13 percent who chose him as the best president and 19 percent who chose him second.

When the data was stratified among generational demographics, age proved to be a pivotal factor in choosing the best president. A 62-percent majority of Millennials chose Obama as the best or second-best president in their lifetimes, followed by Clinton with a 47-percent total.

In contrast, the previous three generations generally favored Reagan – Gen X chose Reagan at 45 percent, Baby Boomers at 42 percent and the Silent Generation at 38 percent.

However, John F. Kennedy, whom history has generally viewed positively, also received some support from the two oldest generations – 24 percent of Baby Boomers and 25 percent of the Silent Generation named as the best or second-best president.

The clearest divide was along partisan lines. A majority of Democratic respondents chose Obama as their first or second choice at 51 and 20 percent, respectively. Democrats seemed to view Clinton as the second-best president in their lifetimes, with 19 percent that chose him first and 30 percent that chose him second.

On the other hand, Republican respondents chose Reagan, widely viewed as the pinnacle of American conservatism, as the clear favorite, with 41 percent who chose him first and 16 percent who chose him second. President Donald Trump was the runner-up amongst Republicans, with 22 percent who chose him first and 19 percent who chose him second.

Outside of Republicans, 19 percent of any given demographic chose Trump as their first or second choice in the aggregate. By historical comparison, only 20 percent of Americans chose Obama as their first and second choice in 2011 at the tail end of Obama’s first term, instead favoring Clinton at 49 percent, followed by Reagan at 34 percent.

Since 2011, Americans seemed to have shifted their presidential preferences away from Clinton and Reagan and toward Obama.

Though the Trump administration is currently younger than the Obama administration was when the 2011 survey was conducted, Trump seems to be on par with the data trend regarding best presidents during their first term.

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