Featured Image and Header Image by Jason Heuser
Welcome to our countdown of the most popular presidents in US history on the internet. If we include ALL presidents, Obama would obviously win, so we want to focus on the presidents that served out their terms before the internet became a thing. One thing to keep in mind, “popularity” does not equal favorable opinion in this study. We’re focusing solely on the number of times the name comes up or is referenced in a variety of mediums across the web.
We’re using Ronald Reagan as the cut-off point for presidents before the internet era. The internet began to really grow into its own at the tail-end of the first Bush administration, and most of his web presence is hard to distinguish from that of his son.
The first ranking comes from the term order for each President. Earlier Presidents get the benefit of living in an era where very little has been digitized, while a President like Calvin Coolidge from the 1900s has a great chance of news articles or books being excerpted and digitized. This acts as something of a leveling agent for the whole post. We add up all the rankings from the various factors tested, and the winner has the lowest score.
Let’s face it, Google pretty much owns the internet, so we took into account five different ranking factors: broad search results, exact search results (place the name in quotes), broad search volumes per month, exact search volumes per month, and cost-per-click in AdWords.
Some interesting takeaways:
- George Washington and John Adams lose an awful lot of search results when flipping between broad and exact match. There must be many guys and ladies living in Washington state named George.
- John Tyler and the Andrews Johnson & Jackson also get a boost here based on how common their names are.
- For some reason it’s more than $5 to buy an ad on the search listing for president “Andrew Johnson”, while it doesn’t even cost a dollar to advertise on Lincoln’s listings.
- George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the most commonly searched for presidents, while Chester A. Arthur is searched for the least every month.
We measured the number of video results each president has on YouTube for our next popularity factor. This helps us see who has more documentaries, weird amateur rap videos, and Illuminati conspiracy videos made about them.
Some interesting takeaways:
- The most popular (JFK) has 43576.5% more video results than the least popular (Rutherford B. Hayes)
- Rutherford B. Hayes has a mere 680 results – a full 90,720 less than MC Hammer.
- John Tyler continues to benefit from having such a common name, coming in at #6.
- The 39 presidents combine to only have 200,000 more video results on YouTube than Justin Beiber
We measured three different factors on Wikipedia: article length, article references, and backlinks to the page. The more popular the president, the more the people editing Wikipedia should want to write about him, and the more references there will be out there to cite. As the internet’s leading encyclopedic resource, Wikipedia should also give us a solid gauge of how often people talk about the Presidents on the web, and link to their page for more info. All link data comes from Open Site Explorer.
Some interesting takeaways:
- The longest article on a US President on Wikipedia belongs to Warren Harding (16,437 words)
- The shortest article on a US President on Wikipedia belongs to Millard Fillmore (3,400 words)
- By my count, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover have the same amount of words in their Wikipedia articles (11,119 words)
- Only 25 references are cited in Martin Van Buren’s Wikipedia article, compared to 376 for Ronald Reagan.
- If not for a terrible presence on Wikipedia, John Adams could’ve ended up the most popular president. He picked up a full 70 points from Wikipedia, leaving him as the sixth most popular president.
Using Topsy, we measured the number of times a president’s name has been mentioned on Twitter.
- Abraham Lincoln wins in a landslide, probably because of his vampire hunting skills and the Spielberg flick
- This was Jimmy Carter’s best category, coming in at #5
The Internet’s Least Popular Pre-Internet US President
It really isn’t even close. Our 13th president, Millard Fillmore, loses in an absolute landslide. As you’ll soon see, first and third place were only separated by 7 points, while Fillmore was a full 29 points behind even coming in next-to-last. That is a pretty bad-ass portrait though, so at least he has that going for him. I bet if he wore an eye patch, he’d have come in first.
The Internet’s Top 5 Most Popular Pre-Internet US Presidents
5. Ronald Reagan (87 points)
The movie career certainly helps President Reagan out, as does his deity-like status among conservatives.
4. George Washington (70 Points)
I thought for sure an awesome Dodge commercial would catapult our first president to the number one position…
3. John F. Kennedy (66 Points)
The conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination played a big role in coming in at number three.
2. Abraham Lincoln (60 Points)
Honest Abe also holds the distinction of being the only president to share the stage with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, so he’ll always be #1 in my heart.
1. Thomas Jefferson (59 Points)
When I began, I was not expecting to see Thomas Jefferson end up #1. I knew he had the potential to be amongst the most popular, but this seems to me to be quite the upset.
Exclusive Breaking News – Jefferson Responds to Being Named #1
Here is the complete list of Presidential rankings from our research: