Poll: Highest rated modern president is…

Kennedy has consistently ranked No. 1 in this Gallup measure initiated in 1990. Nixon has almost always come in last, although Lyndon Johnson had the lowest retrospective approval in 1993 and tied with Nixon in 1992. However, given that many Americans have no opinion of Johnson, his disapproval runs much lower than Nixon’s. The most notable changes in this year’s update are a nine-point drop in Carter’s approval rating and eight-point increases in those for Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Johnson.

This is Gallup’s first retrospective approval measure of George W. Bush since he left office in 2009. His 47% approval and 51% disapproval rating puts him in Nixon’s company as the only two presidents whose retrospective disapproval exceeds their approval, although the balance is much more negative for Nixon: 29% approve and 65% disapprove. For Bush — whose job approval ratings as president descended into the 20s in his final year — a 47% retrospective approval is actually relatively positive, as his approval rating as president last reached that level in 2005.

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