If Donald Trump has taught us anything, it’s that potential leaders of the free world don’t need book smarts to gain credibility. Indeed, when U.C. Davis conducted a study in 2006 estimating the IQs of past U.S. presidents, the results were quite revealing. And, while they by no means possessed below average intelligence, these former heads of state have still proven themselves to be the dullest knives in the presidential drawer.
20. Dwight D. Eisenhower – 131.9
Despite leading the U.S. to victory as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower motioned some very unpopular policies during his tenure. In particular, Eisenhower – incumbent between 1953 and 1961 and with an estimated IQ of 131.9 – was one of the major instigators of the United States’ disastrous entry into the Vietnam conflict.
19. Richard Nixon – 131
As the first and last President to ever quit the White House, Richard Nixon is now regarded as a notorious figure in American politics. To be fair, though, Tricky Dicky was hindered by an estimated IQ of 131, which might explain why he allowed himself to become so consumed with paranoia that all legality went right out the window. Whatever his excuse, Nixon stepped down in 1974 after only five years in power.
18. Grover Cleveland – 130.9
Grover Cleveland served two terms as U.S. President from 1885 and 1893, although it seems that he was not at all fond of actually serving his people. In fact, he once quipped that “it is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.” And to this end the president – who had an IQ of 130.9 – blocked many bills, including, famously, one that would’ve helped Texan farmers who were struggling after a particularly dry spell.
17. James K. Polk – 130.2
James K. Polk – the incumbent from 1845 to 1849 – might have possessed a comparatively low IQ of 130.2, but he was relatively successful in his single term of presidency. However, Polk was also greedy for territory, and when he aggressively staked his claim on Texas, California and New Mexico he thoroughly soured relations between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, he ignited a controversial conflict that would indirectly result in the American Civil War 20 years later.
16. George H.W. Bush – 130.1
Proving that verbal dexterity does not run in the Bush family, George Bush Sr. was as equally known for issuing strange statements as his son would be ten years later. During his 1989 to 1993 presidency, Bush would belie his 130.1 IQ with bizarre declarations like, “I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.”
15. Benjamin Harrison – 130
Spurred on by the legacy of his grandfather William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison sought, and rose to, office, becoming U.S. President in 1889. But despite initial support, Harrison – who had an estimated IQ of 130 – lost favor with the American public due to a series of unsuccessful policies. He imposed detrimental labor tariffs, for example, then attempted to assume control of Hawaii before he was eventually ousted in 1893 after just one term.
14. Ronald Reagan – 130
Some consider Ronald Reagan a hero of American politics, but even his most ardent supporters can’t condone every act he made during his 1981 to 1989 presidential tenure. Most notably, his handling of the Iran-Contra affair – in which he sold weapons to the then-embargoed Iran on the sly – is surely the work of someone with an intelligence below his supposed 130 IQ.
13. Herbert Hoover – 129.8
As trials by fire go, Herbert Hoover seemed to have the most challenging when the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred just eight months after he entered the White House. Needless to say, Hoover – whose IQ was estimated at 129.8 – was ill-equipped for the disaster, and his mishandling of the subsequent Great Depression would see him replaced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
12. Lyndon B. Johnson – 127.8
Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s murder in 1963, and his six-year presidency will forever be tarnished with his involvement in the Vietnam War. And in addition to his questionable foreign policy, Johnson – possibly due to his 127.8 IQ – was also a crude and impulsive man who it’s alleged once urinated on a secret service agent’s leg.
11. Harry S. Truman – 127.5
Despite lacking a college degree and possessing an IQ of 127.5, Harry Truman started his eight-year presidency in 1945 with overwhelming public support and approval. This impression would soon slip following the events of his presidency, and Truman is now best remembered for ordering an atomic weapon attack on Japan and dragging the U.S. into the Korean War.
10. Calvin Coolidge – 127.1
Although Calvin Coolidge was still relatively well-liked when he left office in 1929, the former statesman still made some hilariously embarrassing gaffes during his six-year presidency. For example, after meeting halfback Red Grange of the Chicago Bears, the confused president – whose IQ is believed to have rested at 127.1 – reportedly stated, “I’m glad to know you. I always did like animal acts.”
9. Gerald Ford – 127.08
Often regarded as a dim-witted klutz, Gerald Ford suffered many pratfalls during his 1974 to 1977 presidency – including an embarrassing tumble down Air Force One’s stairs. His estimated 127.08 IQ was called into question by many, too; former president Lyndon B. Johnson once remarked, “Jerry Ford is so dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”
8. William Taft – 126.9
William Taft was well aware of his failures as a president from 1909 to 1913. In fact, in a letter to his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt, Taft – who had an IQ of 126.9 – wrote, “I do not know if I have had harder luck than other presidents, but I do know that I have succeeded far less than others.”
7. Andrew Jackson – 126.25
Andrew Jackson’s behavior prior to his 1829 to 1837 presidency was more fitting for a barfly than a statesman. In particular, Jackson – who had an estimated 126.25 IQ – killed ranchman Charles Dickinson in a duel over a horse racing bet. Moreover, his involvement in the forced relocation of Native Americans while in office has made him infamous in U.S. history.
6. James Buchanan – 125.9
James Buchanan is routinely considered to be the worst president ever to serve the U.S., and he definitely did little to instil public confidence during his four-year tenure from 1857. In fact, his failure to act in the face of the growing animosity between the North and South – possibly due to a 125.9 IQ – ultimately resulted in the American Civil War. Indeed, Buchanan’s post-presidency unpopularity was so great that he could no longer even frequent his usual drinking spots.
5. Zachary Taylor – 125.65
It’s not unusual for a president to die while in office, but no incumbent has ever suffered a death quite as dumb as Zachary Taylor’s. In 1850 – just one year after his inauguration – Taylor perished from a fatal bout of gastroenteritis brought on by a peculiar diet of milk and cherries. Let’s just say that his estimated 125.65 IQ mustn’t have allowed him much of a survival instinct.
4. Andrew Johnson – 125.65
Andrew Johnson began his presidency very much as he meant to go on – by turning up drunk to his own 1865 inauguration. And unlike his predecessor Abraham Lincoln, Johnson did very little to protect the rights of recently freed slaves while in office. In fact, his total incompetency – bolstered by a comparatively small 125.65 IQ – led to his impeachment in 1868.
3. George W. Bush – 124.88
We could fill a whole list with the idiotic things George W. Bush has done, and – with an IQ of 124.88 – it wouldn’t be wise to “misunderestimate” his dumbness. Besides the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and his response to Hurricane Katrina, the 43rd president also became famous for “Bushisms” that eschewed the conventions of grammar and logic to hilarious degrees.
2. Warren G. Harding – 124.3
Warren G. Harding was more concerned with leisure pursuits and lechery than presidential duties and lasted two years in office from his 1921 inauguration to his 1923 death. Indeed, even Harding himself – who possessed a 124.3 IQ – knew that he was a poor choice of president and admitted, “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.”
1. Ulysses S. Grant – 120
With an estimated IQ of just 120, Ulysses S. Grant never had much of a chance of being an effectual president. And although his military tactics helped the North win the Civil War, his time in office – from 1869 to 1877 – was marked by severe corruption among his staff, which in turn resulted in the United States’ first stock market crash.