Monday 19 February marked Presidents’ Day, a US federal holiday originally celebrating the birthday of the nation’s first president George Washington on 22 February 1732. Over time, the holiday has come to honour and reflect on each of the 46 of the US presidents and their contribution to the US 247-year democratic experiment.

Coinciding with the commemorative day this year, US presidential historians released the 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey, which ranked each of the presidents according to their average ‘greatness’ score, as determined by 154 presidential specialists. President Lincoln came in first place with an average score of 93.87; 45th President Donald Trump (and 2024 presidential hopeful) came in last with an average score of 10.92; while President Biden averaged a score of 62.66, putting him in 14th place.

Biden may have performed well among those presidential experts surveyed, but when America’s public are asked their opinion of their president, the current president’s supposed greatness seems to go unnoticed.

Biden’s 2023 approval rating sat at 39 per cent, continuing a long-stretch of low approval ratings that have plagued the president since mid-2022 and sent him into the new year with the lowest third-year approval rating since President Carter in 1979 (a notably one term president, and according to the survey, the most ‘under-rated’ president). Meanwhile, at the third-year mark in his presidency in 2019, Donald Trump – Biden’s main rival to re-election – had an approval rating of 45 per cent.

Incumbent job approval is often thought to be one of the best indicators of a re-election success, and those seeking re-election with an approval rating of around 50 per cent near election day tend to be re-elected. President Biden, then, has a lot of ground to cover to convince the American people of his greatness and avoid the same fate as President Carter; lest the least ‘great’ president succeed to the Oval Office in his own re-election comeback.

This article was first published in the weekly 46th newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter here, to have it delivered straight to your inbox every Wednesday.