That is the conclusion of this survey of political “scientists” which is getting a lot of play in today’s news. This ranking is done periodically by members of the American Political Science Association, and this year’s poll compares today’s ratings with those compiled in 2014. They show the traditionally great presidents at the top, led by Lincoln and Washington.
One surprise this year is that Barack Obama has jumped up to 8th place, from 18th four years ago. Absence has already made the heart grow fonder, apparently. Bringing up the rear, in dead last, is Donald Trump.
Is there any reason to take surveys like this one seriously? Of course not. It is ridiculous to rate Donald Trump after one year in office, and it is ridiculous to rate Barack Obama our 8th-best president. Political bias is obviously showing here. Whose views are being reflected in the survey?
Respondents were current and recent members of the Presidents & Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, which is the foremost organization of social science experts in presidential politics. 320 respondents were invited to participate, and 170 usable responses were received, yielding a 53.1% response rate.
The authors of the survey try to tell us that their sample wasn’t too overwhelmingly biased in favor of liberal Democrats:
The results showed that 57.2% (95/166) of respondents were Democrats, while 12.7% were Republicans (21/166), 27.1% were Independents (45/166), and 3% (5/166) selected Other as their option. The second question asked whether the respondent ideologically considered themselves to be liberal, somewhat liberal, moderate, somewhat conservative, or conservative. The results of this question showed that 32.5% (54/166) consider themselves ideologically liberal, while 25.9% (43/166) consider themselves somewhat liberal, and 24.1% consider themselves moderate (40/166). Only 5.4% (9/166) consider themselves ideologically conservative, while 12% (20/166) say they are somewhat conservative.
In the general population, self-identified conservatives consistently outnumber liberals by one and a half to two to one. Here, liberals outnumber conservatives by well over three to one, even assuming that the “moderates” are really moderate. (Most of the liberals I know will describe themselves, if asked, as moderates.) This reflects an extreme degree of bias.
The American Political Science Association’s leftward tilt is of long standing. Steve wrote several years ago about a poll of APSA members conducted in 1984. It found that over 90% intended to vote for Walter Mondale. Just 2% opted for Ronald Reagan, while most of the rest–a larger number than the Reagan supporters–intended to vote for someone on Mondale’s left. Reagan went on to carry 49 states in one of the biggest blowouts in American political history.
Over the years, Steve has had fun reporting on the APSA’s annual convention, most recently here. How scientific are the members of the American Political Science Association? Steve recounts the titles of some of the panels assembled for the first APSA convention after Trump’s election: “Disavowing Violence: Imperial Entitlements, From Burke to Trump (Fuck That Guy),” “White Genocide is Gonna Get Your Mama!” “Activist, Teacher, Scholar: Transformative Practice in the Era of Trump,” and “Race, Gender, Sexuality, & the Politics of Legitimacy: 8 Months in Trumplandia.”
Academia has pretty much abandoned America, and vice versa. There simply is no credibility left in soft fields like “political science.”