The names may change, but presidents still follow the same partisan votes in the early years of the 20th century. Presidents Truman and Coolidge go up, while presidents who were Republican, or pro-business, presidents go down, according to a new analysis of public opinion surveys.
The findings from the Pew Research Center underscore the continued role that leaders play in shaping history — as figures whose actions resonate.
Each presidency is remembered differently. And in the decades since the beginning of the 20th century, public opinions have shifted. Not even four years ago, for example, many Americans said Barack Obama, the first black president, has done more to help people in this country.
But old patterns still hold: For example, surveys of public opinion shows that the most partisan and organized branches of government are remembered best by Americans. The public is least enthusiastic about members of the presidency: Presidents have lower favorability ratings than any branch.
Among those who voted for Obama in 2008, the next president to be mentioned is John Kasich, who was governor of Ohio at the time. Kasich ran for president in 2000, unsuccessfully, but most Americans cite him as least likely to be remembered.
President Warren Harding, famous for his ties to William Howard Taft, received the lowest favorability ratings in the early 2000s. In this presidential year, his name is volunteered by far fewer voters than previous years.
[Each time the White House addresses voters in presidential election years, HuffPost Pollster lists the name of the former president who is most frequently volunteered as his name has trended downward in the past six months.]
The names of the majority of presidents since World War II are all borrowed from Abraham Lincoln. His military service is the biggest influence, as are his successes during the campaign, followed by presidents who were anti-monopoly or pro-business presidents.
We've highlighted the president who has been the most cited over the past year in each category, in turn, to show how the public's understanding of these presidents has changed over time.
For a fuller look at how presidents have been linked with history, see this interactive graphic.