Kennedy still tops approval ratings of modern presidents

Former President John F. Kennedy has the highest job approval rating of the past nine U.S. presidents, according to a Gallup Poll.

Kennedy leads the list with a strong 85 percent approval rating. In second place, President Ronald Reagan boasts a 74 percent approval rating. The two presidents had close to the same numbers when the survey was taken in 2006.

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton moved up the list, coming in at third.

In Gallup's first retrospective approval measure since he left office, former President George W. Bush came in eighth with an approval rating of 47 percent. His father, George H.W. Bush came in fourth, receiving a 64 percent rating.

Richard Nixon came in last with a 29 percent approval rating.

According to Gallup, those surveyed were asked to comment on whether they approve or disapprove of each president’s time in office, based on what they remember.

Kennedy has ranked No. 1 since the poll began in 1990. Nixon has almost always come in last.

“Six of the nine presidents are now more highly regarded than they were at the end of their presidencies,” Gallup's Lydia Saad wrote in her analysis. “These include Kennedy, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Carter, and George W. Bush.”

She notes attitudes toward former presidents tend to soften with amount of time out of office, although that cannot be guaranteed.

The poll surveyed 1,037 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.