Abraham Lincoln has defeated Ronald Reagan to retake the title of greatest American president in the eyes of most Americans. Reagan had briefly usurped Lincoln following his death in 2005, according to Gallup, which regularly updates the standings. The current top five greatest presidents, in order, are: Lincoln, Reagan, Kennedy, Clinton and FDR.

Apparently recovering from the Great Depression, landing on the moon and presiding over unparalleled prosperity don’t impress Americans as much as, uh…Iran/Contra?

Thanks to Alex Edelman for the tip.


Since noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. declared Abraham Lincoln to be the country’s best president in his 1948 poll of 55 historians, similar polls of scholars have consistently placed Lincoln among the top three presidents in U.S. history.

The American public agrees. In each of seven surveys Gallup has conducted on this topic since 1999, Lincoln has been one of the top three presidents named by Americans. Lincoln ranked first or tied for first in two 2003 Gallup Polls, but slipped into second place behind Ronald Reagan in 2005. Reagan enjoyed a surge of public esteem in 2005, left over from the publicity following his death the previous year.

According to a Feb. 9-11, 2007, Gallup Poll, Lincoln is back at No. 1 with Americans. Still, he holds this position based on responses from a fairly small percentage of the public. Eighteen percent of Americans today name Lincoln as the greatest U.S. president. He is closely followed by Reagan, with 16%, and John F. Kennedy, with 14%. Bill Clinton (13%) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (9%) round out the top five.

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