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.
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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.
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