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Forums - Politics Discussion - Power Rankings of US Presidents

I've been nerding out on some historical data. I thought it would be fun to look at every single past Congress (Houe of Representatives + Senate) in US history all the way up to present to see, based on their political party's numbers in Congress when each individual President was in power, how much power they had. Power can be measured by a number of different ways, but for the purpose of this thread, I wanted to look at data based on congressional makeup. If this proves popular, I'll continue to find other fun nuggets in political history to share.

I want a different thread for this than the main US Politics one because a) That one is almost entirely focused on present events, or at least modern history, which is the opposite of this thread and b) That thread is filled with people arguing about modern politics, whereas this one is more going to be analytical of data and not very subjective.

I thought about adding Supreme Court makeup into this total, but many justices, especially historically, did not necessarily rule in favor of their nominating party, so it isn't as indicative of power.

With that being said, here are the power rankings for Presidents during respective two year congressional terms, based on power in Congress I calculated (please point out if you ever find something incorrect so I can fix it) of past and current presidents of the United States of America!

Election House Senate Points (200) Notes:
James Monroe Democratic-
Republican
1823 0.8873239437 0.8958333333 178.3157277
James Monroe Democratic-
Republican
1821 0.8288770053 0.9166666667 174.5543672
James Monroe Democratic-
Republican
1819 0.8602150538 0.8043478261 166.456288
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-
Republican
1807 0.8169014085 0.8235294118 164.043082
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-
Republican
1805 0.8028169014 0.7941176471 159.6934548
James Madison Democratic-
Republican
1811 0.7482517483 0.8333333333 158.1585082
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1937 0.7655172414 0.7916666667 155.7183908
Ulysses S. Grant Republican 1869 0.6995884774 0.8243243243 152.3912802
2 Senate Vacancies.
James Monroe Democratic-
Republican
1817 0.7891891892 0.7142857143 150.3474903
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-
Republican
1803 0.7253521127 0.7352941176 146.064623
John Adams Democratic-
Republican
1797 0.5377358491 0.6875 146
Senate Super majority
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1935 0.7402298851 0.71875 145.8979885
James Madison Democratic-
Republican
1813 0.6263736264 0.8235294118 144.9903038
James Madison Democratic-
Republican
1809 0.6478873239 0.7941176471 144.2004971
Ulysses S. Grant Republican 1873 0.6975945017 0.7397260274 143.7320529
2 House vacancies, 1 Senate vacancy.
Lyndon B. Johnson Democrat 1965 0.6781609195 0.68 135.816092
James Madison Democratic-
Republican
1815 0.650273224 0.6842105263 133.448375
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1933 0.7195402299 0.6145833333 133.4123563
Ulysses S. Grant Republican 1871 0.5596707819 0.7702702703 132.9941052
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1939 0.6 0.71875 131.875
Warren G. Harding Republican 1921 0.6928406467 0.6145833333 130.742398
2 House vacancies.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1941 0.616091954 0.6875 130.3591954
Theodore Roosevelt Republican 1905 0.6476683938 0.6444444444 129.2112838
Franklin Pierce Democrat 1853 0.6709401709 0.6129032258 128.3843397
Jimmy Carter Democrat 1977 0.6712643678 0.61 128.1264368
Lyndon B. Johnson Democrat 1963 0.5944700461 0.67 126.4470046
1 House vacancy.
George Washington Unaffiliated 1789 0.5692307692 0.6923076923 126.1538462
John Adams Democratic-
Republican
1799 0.5660377358 0.6875 125.3537736
Theodore Roosevelt Republican 1907 0.5751295337 0.6777777778 125.2907311
2 Senate Vacancies.
John F. Kennedy Democrat 1961 0.5995423341 0.64 123.9542334
Abraham Lincoln Republican 1861 0.6022727273 0.62 122.2272727
Many states left so house members diminished. Two vacanies in House and 1 vacancy in Senate.
Jimmy Carter Democrat 1979 0.6367816092 0.58 121.6781609
Lyndon B. Johnson Democrat 1967 0.569124424 0.64 120.9124424
1 House vacancy.
James K. Polk Democrat 1845 0.6228070175 0.5862068966 120.9013914
William H. Taft Republican 1909 0.5601023018 0.6483516484 120.845395
1 Senate vacancy.
Herbert Hoover Republican 1929 0.6194895592 0.5833333333 120.2822892
4 House vacancies.
Martin Van Buren Democrat 1837 0.5289256198 0.6730769231 120.2002543
Woodrow Wilson Democrat 1913 0.6666666667 0.53125 119.7916667
Theodore Roosevelt Republican 1901 0.5561797753 0.6363636364 119.2543412
2 Senate vacancies, 1 House vacancy.
Theodore Roosevelt Republican 1903 0.5376623377 0.6444444444 118.2106782
1 House vacancy.
Barack Obama Democrat 2009 0.5908045977 0.59 118.0804598
At one point Democrats had 58, at another 60 Senators cacusing with their side.
Harry S. Truman Democrat 1949 0.6022988506 0.5625 116.4798851
Bill Clinton Democrat 1993 0.5931034483 0.57 116.3103448
James Buchanan Democrat 1857 0.552742616 0.609375 116.2117616
Andrew Jackson Jacksonians 1829 0.6384976526 0.5208333333 115.9330986
John Tyler Whig 1841 0.5867768595 0.568627451 115.540431
1 Senate Vacancy, Whig kicked Tyler out of party so he was very weak.
Harry S. Truman Democrat 1945 0.5586206897 0.59375 115.237069
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-
Republican
1801 0.6355140187 0.5151515152 115.0665534
2 Senate vacancies.
Calvin Coolidge Republican 1925 0.567816092 0.5684210526 113.6237145
1 Senate vacancy.
Grover Cleveland Democrat 1893 0.6179775281 0.5176470588 113.5624587
3 Senate Vacancies.
Abraham Lincoln Republican 1863 0.5628415301 0.568627451 113.1468981
Woodrow Wilson Democrat 1915 0.5347222222 0.5833333333 111.8055556
3 House vacancies.
George Washington 1791 0.5652173913 0.5517241379 111.6941529
1 Senate vacancy.
James K. Polk Democrat 1847 0.4782608696 0.6333333333 111.1594203
William McKinley Republican 1899 0.5182072829 0.5888888889 110.7096172
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1943 0.5103448276 0.59375 110.4094828
Martin Van Buren Democrat 1839 0.5165289256 0.5769230769 109.3452003
Andrew Jackson Jacksonians 1831 0.5915492958 0.5 109.1549296
Andrew Jackson Jacksonians 1835 0.5909090909 0.5 109.0909091
William McKinley Republican 1897 0.5786516854 0.5111111111 108.9762797
1 House vacancy.
George W. Bush Republican 2001 0.508045977 0.5 109.137931
1 Republican Senator became independent, cacusing with Democrats in May 2001.
Benjamin Harrison Republican 1889 0.5242424242 0.5595238095 108.3766234
George W. Bush Republican 2005 0.5333333333 0.55 108.3333333
Donald Trump Republican 2017 0.5540229885 0.52 107.4022989
Calvin Coolidge Republican 1923 0.5172413793 0.53125 104.8491379
Calvin Coolidge Republican 1927 0.5448275862 0.5 104.4827586
Harry S. Truman Democrat 1951 0.5402298851 0.5 104.0229885
George W. Bush Republican 2003 0.5264367816 0.51 103.6436782
Woodrow Wilson Democrat 1917 0.4827586207 0.5520833333 103.4841954
George Washington Unaffiliated 1793 0.4857142857 0.5333333333 101.9047619
Grover Cleveland Democrat 1885 0.5617283951 0.4533333333 101.5061728
1 Senate and 1 House vacancy.
Andrew Jackson Jacksonians 1833 0.5958333333 0.4166666667 101.25
Barack Obama Democrat 2013 0.4620689655 0.55 101.2068966
Joe Biden Democrat 2021 0.5103448276 0.5 101.0344828
Grover Cleveland Democrat 1887 0.5230769231 0.4868421053 100.9919028
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 1953 0.508045977 0.5 100.8045977
Chester A. Arthur Republican 1881 0.5187713311 0.4868421053 100.5613436
James Buchanan Democrat 1859 0.4261603376 0.5757575758 100.1917913
Herbert Hoover Republican 1931 0.4988505747 0.5 99.88505747
Democrats also had 217 House members and 48 Senators. 1 Independent in each chamber.
Donald Trump Republican 2019 0.4597701149 0.53 98.97701149
Franklin Pierce Democrat 1855 0.3547008547 0.6290322581 98.37331128
Ulysses S. Grant Republican 1875 0.3676975945 0.6133333333 98.10309278
2 House vacancies, 1 Senate vacancy.
Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 1877 0.4675767918 0.5131578947 98.07346865
Barack Obama Democrat 2011 0.4436781609 0.53 97.36781609
Ronald Reagan Republican 1981 0.4413793103 0.53 97.13793103
John Quincy Adams Anti-Jacksonians 1825 0.5117370892 0.4583333333 97.00704225
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 1955 0.4666666667 0.4895833333 95.625
George W. Bush Republican 2007 0.4643678161 0.49 95.43678161
William H. Taft Republican 1911 0.4143222506 0.5384615385 95.27837891
1 Senate vacancy.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 1957 0.4620689655 0.4895833333 95.16522989
Ronald Reagan Republican 1985 0.416091954 0.53 94.6091954
Bill Clinton Democrat 1995 0.4689655172 0.47 93.89655172
Bill Clinton Democrat 1999 0.4850574713 0.45 93.50574713
Woodrow Wilson Democrat 1919 0.4390804598 0.4895833333 92.86637931
Bill Clinton Democrat 1997 0.4735632184 0.45 92.35632184
Ronald Reagan Republican 1983 0.3793103448 0.54 91.93103448
John Quincy Adams Anti-Jacksonians 1827 0.4694835681 0.4375 90.69835681
Harry S. Truman Democrat 1947 0.432183908 0.46875 90.0933908
Chester A. Arthur Republican 1883 0.3661538462 0.5263157895 89.24696356
John Tyler Independent 1843 0.3228699552 0.5576923077 88.05622628
Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 1879 0.4383561644 0.4342105263 87.25666907
1 House vacancy.
Barack Obama Democrat 2015 0.432183908 0.44 87.2183908
Zachary Taylor Whig 1849 0.4655172414 0.4032258065 86.87430478
1 House Vacancy.
Ronald Reagan Republican 1987 0.416091954 0.45 86.6091954
Richard Nixon Republican 1969 0.4413793103 0.42 86.13793103
Gerald Ford Republican 1973 0.4413793103 0.42 86.13793103
Richard Nixon Republican 1971 0.4137931034 0.44 85.37931034
George H.W. Bush Republican 1989 0.4022988506 0.45 85.22988506
George H.W. Bush Republican 1991 0.383908046 0.44 82.3908046
Benjamin Harrison Republican 1891 0.2642642643 0.5340909091 79.83551734
Millard Fillmore Whig 1851 0.364806867 0.3709677419 73.57746089
Grover Cleveland Democrat 1895 0.2913165266 0.4431818182 73.44983448
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 1959 0.3501144165 0.3541666667 70.42810831
Gerald Ford Republican 1975 0.3310344828 0.37 70.10344828
Andrew Johnson Independent 1867 0.2552083333 0.2075471698 46.27555031
1 House Vacancy.
Andrew Johnson Independent 1865 0.2408376963 0.1886792453 42.95169416
Was a Democrat before election, but didn't fully align with Republicans once Lincoln was murdered.
George Washington Unaffiliated 1795 0 0 0 Rejected both parties.


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To clarify, the power rankings are based on how many people in the House and Senate were the same political party?



Love and tolerate.

Interesting premise on ranking how powerful a President could have been. I'll just throw out my top 6 presidents (not based on potential power) in no particular order:
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Theodore Roosevelt
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman

Big shout out to the worst US president in history, Woodrow Wilson.



Salnax said:

To clarify, the power rankings are based on how many people in the House and Senate were the same political party?

Yep! Reducing it to a decimal for each side, then combining them for total points.



NobleTeam360 said:

Interesting premise on ranking how powerful a President could have been. I'll just throw out my top 6 presidents (not based on potential power) in no particular order:
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Theodore Roosevelt
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman

Big shout out to the worst US president in history, Woodrow Wilson.

Washington is kind of an outlier for my data because of that final Congress during his last two years. But yeah, the idea for the list above was moreso about potential power had it been used effectively, not necessarily how much they accomplished. 



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Can't wait for Trump to source this post in a tweet. Best president of the last 25 years lol



 

 

Cobretti2 said:

Can't wait for Trump to source this post in a tweet. Best president of the last 25 years lol

Huh? He is no where near the top. Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had a term with more power than Trump's most powerful term, and his second term was weaker than Biden's current one.

I don't get what you mean?



Between geography, gerrymandering, and the fact that in recent times if a president doesn't unilaterally fix everything right away (which they can't do) their entire party gets the blame regardless of the circumstances (e.g., the routine use of the Senate filibuster making it hard for much of anything to get done), modern presidents are almost guaranteed to see their party lose control of one or both houses of Congress in retaliation by wishy-washy voters. That means we'll probably never see one ever get as high on a chart like this as FDR, LBJ, and several of our earliest presidents have done. For presidents in the past 40 years, Obama and Clinton ranked decently in the first half of their first terms, but outside of that it looks like everyone from Reagan to Biden all ranked in the bottom half.

If I may go off on a mostly-related tangent here, IMO, U.S. presidents are more and important and powerful than they should be, yet paradoxically are deemed more powerful than they actually are. What I mean is that executive presidents (i.e., ones that exercise actual power), not just in the U.S. but around the world, have a tendency to see their office grow in power well beyond what might have been originally intended, and nations with presidential systems far too often descend into autocracy. However, while the office of president in the U.S. may have had its power grow beyond its original constitutional limits, their power is not currently limitless, and there's a lot they can't do without congressional approval.



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In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").

For some reason I imagined this would about which president could beat who in a physical fight.



Dulfite said:
Cobretti2 said:

Can't wait for Trump to source this post in a tweet. Best president of the last 25 years lol

Huh? He is no where near the top. Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had a term with more power than Trump's most powerful term, and his second term was weaker than Biden's current one.

I don't get what you mean?

I think he means that this truth will be spun. We're at a point in time where it's becoming subjective and relative. I think US is now being labeled as an Anocratic state; so much for the honor system.