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Washington (AFP) — A new poll Wednesday found President Barack Obama, who is enduring a tough second term, topping a list of the worst U.S. leaders since World War II.

The survey, by the polling institute at Quinnipiac University, revealed that 33 percent of those asked saw Obama as the worst leader in the last 70 years. Twenty-eight percent picked his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

Quinnipiac said that 35 percent saw Republican Ronald Reagan, president from 1981 to 1989, as the best U.S. leader since 1945, with 18 percent choosing Bill Clinton and 15 percent going for the assassinated John F. Kennedy.

“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 polling for Quinnipiac.

Forty-five percent of those polled said that America would have been better off had Republican Mitt Romney won the 2012 election, while 38 percent said the country would be worse off.

Presidents typically capture the most heat while they are in office, and many find that their spells in the White House are reevaluated when they have retired and are out of Washington’s bitter partisan crossfire.

Bush, who was deeply unpopular at the end of his second term, has seen his ratings edge up in recent years. Others like Clinton were popular on their last day in office and have seen their public opinion ratings remain strong.

The poll appeared to show a bias towards more recent presidents. Only 13 percent said Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace, was seen as the worst president. Jimmy Carter, a one-term Democrat whose 1981-85 presidency is often pilloried, was seen as the worst president by only eight percent.

The Quinnipiac poll was consistent with other recent surveys, showing Obama’s job approval ratings touching near historic lows of around 40 percent.

A string of political controversies and foreign policy crises have sullied Obama’s reputation. The poll found that by 54 to 44 percent, voters believe the Obama administration is not competent at running the government.

Only 40 percent of those asked approved of how Obama was handling the economy and only 37 percent backed his management of foreign policy.

The survey was conducted between June 20-24 among 1,446 registered voters and has a plus or minus margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan

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