The 2000 presidential election that pitted Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush, the son of a former president against Democratic Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., the son of a former U.S. senator was a dramatic reminder that presidential politics in the United States is not an equal opportunity employer. In this article retrospective assessments of presidential performance are related to social class and kinship connections for the forty-two presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. Three separate evaluations of presidential performance were used: the 1989 Murray-Blessing Survey; the widely cited 1996 New York Times poll prepared by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; and the 200 Federalist Society one prepared by conservative scholars for the Wall Street Journal. The public’s assessment was based on polling data from various national polling firms, such as the Gallup, Harris, and Zogby oganizations. The performance data was related to presidential kinship data from the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1989 and 1996 and research on the social class origins of presidents prepared by Professor Edward Pessen. The findings indicate that presidents of upper social class origins scored consistently higher on the performance measures than did presidents of lesser origins. However, the number of presidential kinship connections appears to be unrelated to social class and to presidential performance. For both the historians and the American public, class trumps kin in assessing he quality of presidential performance.



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