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Friday, May 18, 2012

Ranking Washington

Ranking the President’s of the United States can be a very complex endeavor – however the Siena Research Institute does it every few years or so. Their most recent results came out in 2010. They typically survey a large number of historians and politicos and ask them to rate the presidents on 20 different categories on a scale of 1 to 5. They then weigh these categories to come up with the overall result and compare.

As you can imagine, as the first, and iconic, president of the United States, George Washington tends to fall near the top every time a survey is given – for 2010 he is overall ranked #4 (just behind Lincoln!), but let’s take a look at where he fell in each category:

Background (family, education, experience): 7th
Party Leadership: 18th
Communication Ability (speaking, writing): 12th
Relationship with Congress: 3rd
Court Appointments: 3rd
Handling of US Economy: 4th
Luck: 1st
Ability to Compromise: 3rd
Willing to Take Risks: 4th
Executive Appointments: 1st
Overall Ability: 4th
Imagination: 9th
Domestic Accomplishments: 4th
Integrity: 2nd
Executive Ability: 2nd
Foreign Policy Accomplishments: 3rd
Leadership Ability: 1st
Intelligence: 12th
Avoid Crucial Mistakes: 1st
Your Present Overall View: 3rd

Overall Ranking: 4th

I think that this evaluation of Washington is pretty spot on. Being the first president you are sort of a shoe in for the luck, executive appointments, leadership, and avoiding crucial mistakes categories. The only ranking that I was a little bit surprised with was communication ability. Granted, I know that many of his speeches were written for him (whose aren’t these days?) but he is always described as being a commanding speaker. I would have thought it would have been a little higher. I also might have thought background might have been a little lower. He didn’t go to college and didn’t come from the elite class of landed gentry like many believe that he did. He was more of a learn as you go from your mistakes sort of guy. To make a comparison to Lincoln, it’s not surprising to me that in the categories where he was first or second, Lincoln typically had the other position – they both seem to go hand in hand in those categories.

What do you think of these rankings – agree/disagree? Most people have a decent working knowledge of Lincoln and Washington – who would you rank higher?

Data obtained from the 2010 Siena Research Institute's 5th Presidential Expert Poll. 2010.

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. First in luck! That's hilarious! I'm actually shamefully uneducated about our presidents -- whenever you post on them you reminded me I want to learn more!

    1. I don't know as much as I would like to. The big names I'm familiar with but the lesser known I'm lucky I remember their names!

  2. I think it's always fascinating to see which Presidents rank where. Some I agree with, some I don't.

    1. I'm the same way. I like to see how people perceive them. It is a little different when the people being polled are of the same field versus the populous in general. I think the top answers would be similar, but the rest would be a free for all!

  3. lol i was laughing at first place in luck too. but it makes sense! i agree, i'd like to know more about our presidents than I do.

    1. He just happened to be at the right place at the right time!


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