Come election time, the nation's economy becomes a topic of focus in their debates for the presidential candidates. Over the years, various surveys have ranked the presidents using different factors.
A research, conducted by Mark Zachary Taylor, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, has graded presidents on how well they have delivered on their promise of strengthening the nation's economy.
The first-of-its-kind study, which analyzed up to 220 years of data on economic growth, unemployment, inflation, government debt, balance of payments, income inequality, currency strength, interest rates and stock market returns, has ranked the presidents after estimating an economic "grade point average", or GPA, for their economic performance. The GPA is reported on a 0 to 4 scale.
Here's how Taylor has ranked the presidents who served from 1789 to 2009 based on their economic grades...
Franklin Delano Roosevelt who served as president for 12 years from 1933 until his death on April 12, 1945, has been ranked first with a GPA of 4 and grade A.
Warren Harding (1921-1923), Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1877-1881) and William McKinley (1897-1901), all with a GPA of 3.80 and grade A are ranked second. (The years in brackets denote the presidential term).
Occupying the next spot and rounding out the top five on the report card are Millard Fillmore (1850 to 1853) and George Washington (1789-1797), each with a GPA of 3.60 and grade A minus.
The best-rated recent presidents are...
Bill Clinton, whose 1992 presidential campaign message was "It's the economy, stupid", has earned a GPA of 3.00 and grade B on the report card, and shares the same GPA and grade as that of Ronald Reagan who served two terms as president, from 1981 to 1989.
According to Taylor, the presidents who belong to pro-business political parties, work with a Congress in which only one house is dominated by their same party, serve during wartime and were raised in middle-class environments tend to deliver an above-average economic performance.
Taylor's report card also has some surprises because some of the highly regarded presidents who are considered national heroes like Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson have received low rankings.
Lincoln, who served as president from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, has received a GPA of 1.33 and grade of C-/D+ for his economic performance.
Madison (1809-1817) and Monroe (1817-1825) have received a GPA of 1.00 and grade D while JQ Adams (1825-1829) and Jackson (1829-1837) have received a GPA of 0.60 and grade D minus.
George W. Bush who held the office of president for two terms (2001 to 2009) has been awarded a GPA of 1.00 and grade D.
The study also revealed that "presidents who delivered inferior economic performance often belong to parties that are relatively pro-farmer, pro-labor, or pro-consumer; enter a homogenous federal government in which one congressional house flipped parties; or were raised in relatively lower-class environments".
Moreover, the economic performance of the presidents has no substantive correlations with pre-political career, birth order, historical greatness, or dark horse versus well vetted presidents, said Taylor.
The study, which did not include President Obama's first term, appears in the October edition of the journal PS Political Science & Politics. The data related to Obama's economic performance will not be available until 2015, Taylor said.
The findings cannot be used as a basis to predict who would win the 2012 election, Taylor cautions.
by RTT Staff Writer
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