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Ahead of President’s Day, America’s Favorite President
Harmeet Kamboj, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D.,

Yearly, Americans observe Presidents Day in celebration for George Washington’s birthday and in remembrance of our nation’s leaders, both past and present. Using PRRI’s 2016 American Values Survey, we took a look at Republicans’ and Democrats’ favorite past presidents.

No one president stands out as the singular favorite among Democratic and Democratic-leaning Americans. More than one-third (35 percent) of Democrats cite President Barack Obama as their favorite president, while about one in five name John F. Kennedy (21 percent) or Bill Clinton (20 percent) and another 15 percent name Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Only five percent of Democrats say Jimmy Carter is their favorite president, and one percent each select Lyndon Johnson or Harry Truman.

President Obama is especially popular with black and Hispanic Democrats. A majority (57 percent) of black Democrats and a plurality (41 percent) of Hispanic Democrats say Obama is their favorite Democratic president. White Democrats, in contrast, are roughly evenly divided in support for Obama (24 percent), Kennedy (23 percent), Roosevelt (22 percent), and Clinton (19 percent).

President Obama also wins out among young Democrats. Close to half (44 percent) of Democratic young adults (age 18-29) list Obama as their favorite Democratic president, with Kennedy (19 percent), Roosevelt (16 percent), and Clinton (14 percent) finishing far behind. By contrast, Democratic seniors (age 65 and older) are largely divided among Kennedy (26 percent), Roosevelt (23 percent), and Obama (19 percent).

On the Republican side, Ronald Reagan is far and away the most popular president. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Republicans and Republican leaners say Reagan is their favorite president, while George W. Bush (12 percent) finishes in a distant second. Seven percent of Republicans name Dwight Eisenhower as their favorite Republican president, five percent select George H.W. Bush, two percent select Richard Nixon, and just one percent select Gerald Ford.

Reagan is the overwhelming favorite among every major demographic group of Republicans. Notably, Republican young adults are the only demographic group in which a majority do not select Reagan: 45 percent of Republican young adults cite Reagan as their favorite Republican president, followed by George W. Bush at 28 percent.

For more, read PRRI’s 2016 American Values Survey.