Ben Taylor of www.insidegov.com/ has recently published his rankings of every President of the United States "from worst to first" in the modern era. The rankings go from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
Mr. Taylor's rankings are based on six "simple factors" which include...
1) average approval rating
2) average victory margin by popular vote
3) change in unemployment rate
4) change in deficit
5) change in Federal debt
6) Congressional seats won/lost by his party
You will note that Foreign policy is NOT one of the factors considered.
Following are Ben's TOP FIVE...
1. LYNDON B. JOHNSON, D (72.70)
2. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, D (69.08)
3. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, R (68.65)
4. RONALD REAGAN, R (62.74)
5. JOHN F. KENNEDY, D (60.94)
My take on this result is that it is probably a fair judgment based on the factors evaluated. LBJ obviously had a huge margin of victory along with a congressional majority in the 1964 Election.
FDR had very high margins of victory in his elections as did IKE and REAGAN in theirs.
JFK's score, on the other hand, had to be impacted adversely because of his narrow margin of victory in the Election of 1960. His popular vote was a mere 1/10 of 1% more than Richard M. Nixon's.
It would be interesting to see how the addition of a seventh not-so-simple factor, FOREIGN POLICY, would impact the results.
LBJ's score certainly would drop due to the Vietnam War while FDR's would just as certainly rise with his leadership in the Second World War. JFK's score, at least in my view, should rise taking into account that American prestige around the world was at a high level during his term and because of his effective leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I will add or deduct points to Mr. Taylor's totals based on my own judgment of the top five presidents' overall foreign policy accomplishments.,, +5 points for a favorable foreign policy administration and -5 for an unfavorable foreign policy administration.
I rated FDR, IKE, REAGAN and JFK as having favorable foreign policy administrations and LBJ as having an unfavorable one.
You will note that while this process does change the order, it does not change JFK's position at number five.
1. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, D (74.08)
2. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, R (73.65)
3. RONALD REAGAN, R (67.74)
4. LYNDON B. JOHNSON, D (67.70)
5. JOHN F. KENNEDY, D (65.94)
I would also note that four of these five presidents completed their terms, either by date or death, very popular. The exception, of course, was Lyndon B. Johnson whose popularly declined because of the unpopularity of the war.
You may be interested in the order of the presidents ranked by Ben Taylor beginning with #6, so here it goes...
6. HARRY S TRUMAN, D (60.94)
7. BILL CLINTON, D (60.07)
8. RICHARD M. NIXON, R (58.68)
9. GEORGE H.W. BUSH, R (53.30)
10. BARACK OBAMA, D (51.93)
11. GERALD R. FORD, R (51.90)
12. GEORGE W. BUSH, R (44.70)
13. JIMMY CARTER, D (43.18)
Applying the foreign policy factor to these scores the results are...
6. HARRY S TRUMAN, D (65.94)
7. BILL CLINTON, D (65.07)
8. RICHARD M. NIXON, R (63.68)
9. GEORGE H.W. BUSH, R (48.30)
10. JIMMY CARTER, D (48.18)
11. BARACK OBAMA, D (46.93)
12. GERALD R. FORD, R (46.90)
13. GEORGE W. BUSH, R (39.70)
"Ranking Every Modern U.S. President from Worst to First," by Ben Taylor, April 24, 2015, www.us-presidents.insidegov.com/