If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


37% Consider Reagan Most Influential President of the Last 50 Years

Americans view Ronald Reagan as America's most influential president in the past half-century.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 37% of American Adults consider Reagan the most influential president in the last 50 years. John F. Kennedy is a distant second with 21%, closely followed by Bill Clinton who earns 19% support. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Just five percent (5%) say George W. Bush was most influential, followed by Lyndon B. Johnson (4%), Jimmy Carter (3%) and Richard M. Nixon (2%). Bottoming out the list are George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford with one percent (1%) support each. Barack Obama was not on the list since his presidency is not yet over.

Reagan's numbers have been improving in recent years. In 2007, among post-war presidents, he ranked third after Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower.  That same year, Reagan ranked ninth in favorability among all American presidents. 

But by last year, 17% rated Reagan as America's most influential president in terms of his impact on history, third behind George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington is the only U.S. president who is officially honored with a federal holiday, but given a list of some of America’s most influential other past presidents, more than one-in-four Americans now say  Reagan should be honored with a federal holiday if another president were to be commemorated.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on February 15-16, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology. 

Want to read more?

Become a Rasmussen Reader to read the article

Have an account?

Log In

Become a Reader


Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.