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Just in time for Presidents Day we have a chance to spend some of this National holiday learning about our former presidents and their place in history.  

CSPANs Historians Presidential Leadership Survey.

Timed for Presidents Day 2009, C-SPAN today releases the results of its second Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership, in which a cross-section of 65 presidential historians ranked the 42 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership.

Major headlines of the survey include:

Abraham Lincoln Retains Top Position;
Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton Advance Since 2000 Survey; George W. Bush Ranks 36th Overall By Historians

Join me over the fold for more details.

As in 2000, C-SPAN was guided in this effort by a team of academic advisors:

Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University; Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Associate Professor of History, Howard University; and Richard Norton Smith, Scholar in Residence at George Mason University. The team approved the ten criteria, which were the same used in C-SPAN’s 2000 Survey, reviewed the list of invited participants, and supervised the reporting of the results. Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard, also consulted on the names of invited historians with an overall goal of geographic, demographic, and ideological diversity.

This isn't a poll, it's a survey.  CSPAN did not ask the rabble, in other words they didnt ask us, but rather asked 65 presidential historians.  The methodology of the survey is as such:

C-SPAN’s academic advisors devised a survey in which participants used a one ("not effective") to ten ("very effective") scale to rate each president on ten qualities of presidential leadership: "Public Persuasion," "Crisis Leadership," "Economic Management," "Moral Authority," "International Relations," "Administrative Skills," "Relations with Congress," "Vision/Setting An Agenda," "Pursued Equal Justice for All," and "Performance Within the Context of His Times."
Surveys were distributed to 147 historians and other professional observers of the presidency, drawn from a database of C-SPAN's programming, augmented by suggestions from the academic advisors. Sixty-five agreed to participate. Participants were guaranteed that individual survey results remain confidential. Survey responses were tabulated by averaging all responses in a given category for each president. Each of the ten categories was given equal weighting in the total scores. Overseeing the 2000 and 2009 tabulations were C-SPAN CFO Robert Kennedy and Dr. Robert Browning, a political scientist who serves as director of the C-SPAN archives.

Historian Survey Results  

Bill Clinton

            2009 2000
Total Score   605  539
Overall Rank   15  21

Categories                  Score          Ranking
                                          2009 2000
Public Persuasion           74.3            10   11
Crisis Leadership           60.5            15   20
Economic Management         76.7             3    5
Moral Authority             28.9            37   41
International Relations     64.1            16   21
Administrative Skills       58.0            20   21
Relations with Congress     51.1            19   36
Vision / Setting an Agenda  57.4           15   22
Pursued Equal Justice For All 73.0          4    5
Performance Within Context of Times 60.7   16   21

George W. Bush

            2009 2000
Total Score   362   NA
Overall Rank   36   NA

Categories                  Score          Ranking
                                          2009 2000
Public Persuasion           34.8            36   NA
Crisis Leadership           45.2            25   NA
Economic Management         25.3            40   NA
Moral Authority             34.4            35   NA
International Relations     30.7            41   NA
Administrative Skills       34.2            37   NA
Relations with Congress     39.7            36   NA
Vision / Setting an Agenda  44.2            25   NA
Pursued Equal Justice For All 39.8          24   NA
Performance Within Context of Times 33.9    36   NA

President's Name   2009FinalScore             Overall  Ranking
                                                 2009     2000
Abraham Lincoln               902                    1        1
George Washington             854                    2        3
Franklin D. Roosevelt         837                    3        2  
Theodore Roosevelt            781                    4        4
Harry S. Truman               708                    5        5
John F. Kennedy               701                    6        8
Thomas Jefferson              698                    7        7  
Dwight D. Eisenhower          689                    8        9
Woodrow Wilson                683                    9        6
Ronald Reagan                 671                   10       11
Lyndon B. Johnson             641                   11       10
James K. Polk                 606                   12       12
Andrew Jackson                606                    13      13
James Monroe                  605                    14      14
Bill Clinton                  605                    15      21
William McKinley              599                    16      15
John Adams                    545                    17      16
George H. W. Bush             542                    18      20
John Quincy Adams             542                    19      19
James Madison                 535                    20      18
Grover Cleveland              523                    21      17
Gerald R. Ford                509                    22      23
Ulysses S. Grant              490                    23      33
William Howard Taft           485                    24      24
Jimmy Carter                  474                    25      22
Calvin Coolidge               469                    26      27
Richard M. Nixon              450                    27      25
James A. Garfield             445                    28      29
Zachary Taylor                443                    29      28
Benjamin Harrison             442                    30      31
Martin Van Buren              435                    31      30
Chester A. Arthur             420                    32      32
Rutherford B. Hayes           409                    33      26
Herbert Hoover                 389                    34      34
John Tyler                     372                    35      36
George W. Bush                 362                    36      NA
Millard Fillmore               351                    37      35
Warren G. Harding              327                    38      38
William Henry Harrison         324                    39      37
Franklin D. Pierce             287                    40      39
Andrew Johnson                 258                    41       40
James Buchanan                 227                    42       41

Historian Richard Norton Smith:

Bill Clinton and Ulysses S. Grant aren't often mentioned in the same sentence - until now. Participants in the latest C-SPAN survey of presidential historians have boosted each man significantly higher than in the original survey conducted in 2000. All of which goes to show two things: the fluidity with which presidential reputations are judged, and the difficulty of assessing any president who has only just recently left office...

Historian Dr. Douglas Brinkley:

As much as is possible, we created a poll that was non-partisan, judicious and fair minded, and it’s fitting that for the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln that he remains at the top of these presidential rankings

Historian Dr. Edna Medford:

How we rank our presidents is, to a large extent, influenced by our own times. Today’s concerns shape our views of the past, be it in the area of foreign policy, managing the economy, or human rights. The survey results also reinforce the idea that history is less about agreed-upon facts than about perceptions of who we are as a nation and how our leaders have either enhanced or tarnished that image we have of ourselves. Lincoln continues to rank at the top in all categories because he is perceived to embody the nation’s avowed core values: integrity, moderation, persistence in the pursuit of honorable goals, respect for human rights, compassion; those who collect near the bottom are perceived as having failed to uphold those values," concluded Dr. Edna Medford.

Originally posted to AfroPonix on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM PST.

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