A new U.S. poll shows Americans think President Barack Obama is the country's worst president since World War II.
The independent Quinnipiac University poll said Wednesday that its survey taken late last month of more than 1,400 U.S. voters showed that 33 percent put Obama at the bottom of the list of 12 presidents who have served since 1945, with 28 percent naming his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president through most of the 1980s, was picked by 35 percent as the best president since World War II. He was followed by Bill Clinton, who served in the 1990s, who was preferred by 18 percent.
"Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of Quinnipiac University's polling unit.
A wide variety of recent surveys have shown weak approval for Obama, who was easily re-elected to a second term in 2012 over Republican Mitt Romney, but since then has faced several domestic and foreign policy setbacks. The Quinnipiac survey showed voters now think, by a 45 to 38 percent margin, the country would have been better off if Romney had won the election.
In the survey, Obama got negative grades for his handling of the economy, foreign policy, health care and terrorism, with those polled only giving him a favorable rating on environmental issues.
"He has taken a pretty big hit as far as foreign policy goes," Malloy noted. "He has lost 10 percentage points as far as competence and the way he is handling that. So that could play pretty heavily into it because that was one of his stronger cards, foreign policy, and now it is not so strong."
Obama continues to try to rally supporters in the wake of weak poll numbers and some recent political setbacks.
The president says he will press ahead with executive action to deal with immigration reform amid strong indications Congress is unlikely to deal with the issue this year.
The Speaker of the House, Republican Congressman John Boehner, said recently he intends to initiate a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking the president's use of executive orders.
"You know the Constitution makes it clear that the president's job is to faithfully execute the laws, and in my view the president has not faithfully executed the laws," Boehner said.
Obama has been dismissive of the Republican lawsuit threat and has vowed to take unilateral action where he can.
"Middle-class families cannot wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff," Obama said. "So sue me. As long as they are doing nothing, I am not going to apologize for trying to do something.”
Foreign policy has long been one of the president's political strengths. But the recent turmoil in Iraq seems to be undercutting public confidence in Obama's leadership, said analyst John Fortier with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
"I think the problem for the president is that conditions on the ground [in Iraq] are not good and he will get some of the blame for that," he said. "So I do not think there are any good alternatives for him even though the American people are not united in what they want to do."
Pollster Tim Malloy added that the president's decision to act unilaterally has the potential for both political risk and reward.
"It is not easy for a second term president, ever. And is the president going rogue? Is he doing things arbitrarily and on his own? Some would say he is. But this has been historic gridlock in Washington and I am sure supporters of the president say he has got no other choice, and people who do not support him say he has gone off the reservation," Malloy said.
Democrats remain concerned the president's weak poll numbers will hurt them in congressional midterm elections in November.
Experts say Republicans are likely to hold their majority in the House of Representatives and have an excellent chance of gaining enough Democratic seats to reclaim a majority in the Senate. That would give them control of both chambers of Congress for the final two years of Obama's presidency.