Presidential Greatness in a Polarized Era: Results from the Latest Presidential Greatness Survey

Presidential Greatness in a Polarized Era: Results from the Latest Presidential Greatness Survey

By Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston, Gregory Eady, University of Copenhagen and Justin S. Vaughn

For generations, scholars have used surveys to examine presidential greatness. However, the rising tide of politicization calls these ratings into question. Can those who study the presidency offer fair judgments regardless of their political affiliation? Does their affiliation alter judgments of presidential greatness in historical or contemporary terms? Using a 2018 expert survey of political scientists who study the presidency, we find that party affiliation and ideological differences do alter—albeit slightly—perceptions of presidential greatness for both past and present presidents up to and including Donald Trump. Our results call into question such ratings insofar as they exist absent the political and ideological context of the reviewer.

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