The History News Network (HNN) conducted an unscientific poll of professional historians to compare their sense of George W. Bush's presidency to that of contemporary public opinion. The poll's flaws notwithstanding, Bush didn't do very well.
In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.
Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.
At least two of those who ranked the current president in the 31-41 ranking made it clear that they placed him next-to-last, with only James Buchanan, in their view, being worse. “He is easily one of the 10-worst of all time and—if the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities matter—then probably in the bottom five, alongside Buchanan, Johnson, Fillmore, and Pierce,” wrote another historian.
Bush probably would have done even worse, but some historians thought it best to wait for hindsight. One told HNN, “It is a bit too early to judge whether Bush's presidency is the worst ever, though it certainly has a shot to take the title. Without a doubt, it is among the worst.”