Presidential IQ's

Below, I quote extensively from an article published in Political Psychology by Dean Keith Simonton. See

He used historiometric methods to assess IQ's. Here is a table of his results: Table 1. See the original paper for an explanation of the numbers here.

And here is an extensive quote from his discussion section:

"First, Bush is definitely intelligent. The IQ estimates range between 111.1 and 138.5, with an average around 125. That places him in the upper range of college graduates in raw intellect (Cronbach, 1960). Admittedly, this average is influenced by Cox's (1926) corrected scores, which may be overestimates. Yet even if we focus on just the uncorrected IQs, the range is between 111.1 and 128.5, with a mean around 120, which is about the average IQ for a college graduate in the United States. In addition, the figure is more than one standard deviation above the population mean, placing Bush in the upper 10% of the intelligence distribution (Storfer, 1990). These results endorse what has been claimed on the basis of his SAT scores and his Harvard MBA, namely, that his IQ most likely exceeds 115 (Immelman, 2001). He is certainly smart enough to be president of the United States (Simonton, 1985).

Second, Bush's IQ is below average relative to that subset of the U.S. citizens who also managed to work their way into the White House. In fact, his intellect falls near the bottom of the distribution. When compared with twentieth-century presidents from Theodore Roosevelt through Clinton, only Harding has a lower score (at least on three of the four estimates). A similar conclusion is suggested by the Intellectual Brilliance measure, albeit in this case there are now two twentieth-century presidents with lower scores, namely, Harding and Coolidge. Moreover, Bush's IQ falls about 20 points--more than one standard deviation--below that of his predecessor, Clinton, a disparity that may have created a contrast effect that made any intellectual weaknesses all the more salient. Clinton's intellectual attainments as a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate, his demonstrated capacity for mastering impressive amounts of complex and detailed information, his verbal eloquence and fluency, and his logical adroitness and sophistication--at times, as during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, verging on sophistry--places Clinton head and shoulders above his successor in terms of intellectual power.

Needless to say, it can be argued that the Intellectual Brilliance and IQ estimates are biased downward. George W. Bush may be much smarter than Table 1 implies. The counterargument must aim at the score he received on Openness, a score that provided the only information for the imputation of his IQ and Intellectual Brilliance estimates. This score placed him at the very bottom of the distribution of U.S. presidents. Indeed, the score puts him toward the bottom of the general population as well. One reason to question this placement is that Rubenzer and Faschingbauer obtained Bush's NEO scores in a different manner than they did for the preceding presidents. As they expressed it, "We depart here from our usual method; rather than having biographers rate the president, the authors read biographies and then rated him. This was done for one simple reason: None of the few biographers available returned our questionnaires" (2004, p. 301). Although these assessments were supplemented somewhat by a last-minute questionnaire response received right before the book's publication they warned "Although we did eventually obtain three raters, greater caution is called for here in reading our results" (pp. 301-302). After all, "None of us have a deep knowledge of Mr. Bush comparable to the presidential experts that provided the other ratings" (p. 302). Thus, the authors themselves claim that their scores, including the Openness assessment, can only be considered tentative.

Even so, there are several reasons for suggesting that the numbers reported in last row of Table 1 are not unreasonable. To begin with, it is likely that his Openness score would not be higher than his father's whose score of 18.0 put his IQ estimates in the low end of the distribution as well. If anything, the son's score should be lower given that his intellectual curiosity appears to be noticeably more restricted than his father's. As one national correspondent for United Press International put it, "despite being the scion of an elite family with worldwide connections, Bush's hobbies appear limited to not much more than running, fishing and baseball" (Sailer, 2004, p. 2)."

The "report" that I originally posted in this space in February of 2007, left as-is below, has widely been reported as a hoax. See:

Begin Hoax

A report published recently (this note is being written in late February, 2007), by the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania, detailed its findings of a four month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the educational community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.

There have been twelve presidents over the past 50 years, from F.D. Roosevelt to G.W. Bush, who were rated based on scholarly achievements:

1. Writings that they produced without aid of staff.

2. Their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors, which were then scored using the Swanson/Crain System of intelligence ranking.

The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points. In order by presidential term:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt [D] 142
Harry S Truman [D] 132
Dwight David Eisenhower [R] 122
John Fitzgerald Kennedy [D] 174
Lyndon Baines Johnson [D] 126
Richard Milhous Nixon [R] 155
Gerald R. Ford [R] 121
James Earle Carter [D] 175
Ronald Wilson Reagan [R] 105
George Herbert Walker Bush [R] 098
William Jefferson Clinton [D] 182
George Walker Bush [R] 091

In order of IQ rating:

182 William Jefferson Clinton [D]
175 James Earle Carter [D]
174 John Fitzgerald Kennedy [D]
155 Richard Milhous Nixon [R]
147 Franklin Delano Roosevelt [D]
132 Harry S Truman [D]
126 Lyndon Baines Johnson [D]
122 Dwight David Eisenhower [R]
121 Gerald R. Ford [R]
105 Ronald Wilson Reagan [R]
098 George Herbert Walker Bush [R]
091 George Walker Bush [R]

The six Republican presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest at 155. President George W. Bush rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.

The six Democratic presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126. No president other than Carter [D] has released his actual IQ (176). Note the institute measured him at 175.

Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President G.W. Bush, his low ratings are due to his apparently difficult command of the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary [6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents], his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.

The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis.

"All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers. Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, which made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We relied more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public speaking."

The Lowenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania think tank includes high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F.Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist. For more information on the Lovenstein Institute, go to

The smartest president didn't know enough to keep his pants zipped and the dumbest one thinks he can run a war.

End Hoax

I stand corrected! ;-)