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Presidential IQ

By       Message Chris Bowers       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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A political scientist friend of mine sent me an article yesterday that attempts to estimate the IQ of 42 of the 43 Presidents of the United States. You can read the entire article here, including the convoluted methodology. I would rather just cut to the chase and post the amusing results, ranked from highest to lowest:

Estimated Presidential IQ Range, Age 18-26. Source: Dean Keith Simonton, UC Davis
  1. J. Q. Adams: 165-175
  2. Jefferson: 150-160
  3. Kennedy: 148-160
  4. Clinton: 147-159
  5. Carter: 144-157
  6. J. Adams: 145-155
  7. Wilson: 144-155
  8. Madison: 135-160
  9. T. Roosevelt: 142-153
  10. Garfield: 141-152
  11. Arthur: 141-152
  12. F. Roosevelt: 140-151
  13. Lincoln: 140-150
  14. Filmore: 137-149
  15. Tyler: 137-148
  16. Pierce: 136-147
  17. Hayes: 136-146
  18. W. Harrison: 136-146
  19. Van Buren: 135-146
  20. B. Harrison: 134-145
  21. Eisenhower: 134-145
  22. Cleveland: 133-144
  23. Nixon: 133-143
  24. Polk: 133-143
  25. McKinley: 133-143
  26. Bush Sr.: 133-143
  27. Jackson: 130-145
  28. Washington: 135-140
  29. Hoover: 132-143
  30. Regan: 132-142
  31. Coolidge: 131-142
  32. LBJ: 131-141
  33. Ford: 130-140
  34. Truman: 130-140
  35. Taft: 130-140
  36. A. Johnson: 129-140
  37. Buchannan: 129-140
  38. Taylor: 129-140
  39. Harding: 128-140
  40. Bush Jr.: 129-139
  41. Monroe: 128-139
  42. Grant: 125-130
The paper actually goes down to a decimal point, allowing for tiebreakers. Also, if you remove John Quincy Adams, the range is fairly narrow, only 27-28 points from Grant to Jefferson at each's median. The paper also claims to have an extremely accurate methodology, and that there is a correspondence between intelligence and performance in the Presidency. Somehow, back in 2000, that completely backfired on Gore, who was widely considered to be much smarter than Bush. However, Bush somehow seemed to still win personality points more than Gore. Perhaps, now that people are sick of Bush and consider him a failure, we need to start pushing "gravitas" as an important characteristic of a chief executive. Also, I wonder which current Democratic candidate is the "smartest."


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Chris Bowers is a blogger for MyDD. His focus is polling and analysis of the political blogosphere. He tends towards data-driven analysis, such as his partisan index, a ranking of how far each state in the United States leans towards a political party. Bowers is also a member of the Pennsylvania (more...)

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