Nearly three years after leaving the Oval Office, the man many considered the most successful U.S. politician of his era is regarded as no better than average, a Los Angeles Times Poll has found.
People still rate President Ronald Reagan's job performance positively, but not overwhelmingly so. And as the "great communicator" has slipped from public view, the public's overall impression of him also has slipped. In fact, people are closely divided over whether they and the nation are better or worse off because of the 40th president's policies, the poll showed.
Although Mr. Reagan won two electoral landslides, skillfully persuaded a politically divided Congress to pass his controversial "Reaganomics" domestic cuts coupled with a massive defense buildup, and led the nation from inflation through recession into prosperity, those interviewed ranked him only in the middle of the pack of U.S. presidents.
Twenty-eight percent considered him "above average," and 33 percent thought he was "below average." Thirty-nine percent said he was just average. Broken down further, 8 percent acclaimed him "one of the best," and 15 percent pronounced him "one of the worst."
Mr. Reagan's $57 million, mission-style presidential library will be dedicated today on an ocean-view hilltop in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, a historic event highlighted by the presence of President Bush and, if all goes as planned, four former presidents: Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Mr. Reagan.
Mr. Carter, who has been in Zambia monitoring elections, has said that he plans to attend the dedication ceremony if the elections go smoothly.
Can we talk?
Which of the former presidents would you most like to talk to?
#Jimmy Carter.. .. .. 35%
Ronald Reagan. .. .. 22%
Richard M. Nixon. .. 20%
Gerald R. Ford .. .. 10%
"I think [Carter] would give me some real insights into the political processes in this country without hedging. I think he was a good president, a real humanitarian of sorts."
Jamal Davis, 29,
a counselor in Baltimore
Los Angeles Times poll