United States Presidency Centre
UK Survey of US Presidents


A New Survey of US Presidents

Richard Neustadt began his classic study, Presidential Power (1960), with the observation:

"In the United States we like to 'rate' a President. We measure him as 'weak' or 'strong' and call what we are measuring his 'leadership'. We do not wait until a man is dead; we rate him from the moment he takes office."

In the half century that has elapsed since Neustadt wrote these words, systematic presidential rating has become a regular academic exercise, but one effectively monopolized by US scholars. Over the same period, however, study of and research in US history and politics has expanded dramatically in UK universities. Accordingly, the lack of a UK rating of US presidents is a surprising omission that needs to be put right.

This project, conducted in 2010 under the auspices of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, was therefore the first ever UK academic survey to rate US presidents. UK specialists in US history and political studies were asked to assess presidential performance and produced an overall rating on the basis of the responses.  They also gave an interim assessment of Barack Obama but his unfinished presidency was not included in the survey.

Professor Iwan Morgan, Director of the American Presidency Centre at UCL Institute of the Americas (UCL-IA), who conducted the survey, has written an analysis of the results.

We would like to thank the Embassy of the United States for their financial contribution to this project