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15 Least Successful Presidents of All Time

We covered the most successful presidents, so it seems only fair to rank 15 least successful presidents of all time as well.

For the most part, the people on this list set out to achieve great deeds and leave their mark in history. Some of them were curtailed by their political opposition, some with their own greed, but mostly, the world events simply ran them over and exposed their inability to cope with them. It is no wonder that three out of top four least successful presidents of all time were in the White House immediately before or after the Civil War, the most turbulent times in United States history. It would be interesting to see how would some of the most successful presidents of all time react if they were in Buchanan’s shoes or how would Lincoln resolve the postbellum crisis and deal with the Reconstruction. The fact remains that these 15 men are responsible for some of the worst presidential mistakes in US history.

We used the same method for ranking the least successful presidents as we did for the most successful ones. By combining two polls, one done by the Siena Research Institute and the other done by the Brookings Institution, we created a list that, we feel, fairly judges all of the 43 presidents. We decided against using popular polls, as we feel they are highly subjective and fail to judge the presidents on their achievements while in the White House. Let’s see who had the misfortune of being on the list of 15 least successful presidents of all time.

15. Jimmy Carter

SRI Ranking: 32

Brookings Ranking: 28

Jimmy Carter started his presidency by issuing a pardon to all Vietnam War draft dodgers. This didn’t earn him many points with the general public in turbulent 1970s. The events that unfolded by the end of the decade only pushed his approval numbers lower. Although, to be honest, Iran hostage crises, energy crisis, and finally the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan would seriously challenge even the most capable of world’s statesmen. Historians, in general, agree that Carter achieved much more during his post-presidential years than during his tenure in the White House.

15 Least Successful Presidents of All Time