George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are consistently ranked at the top of the lists. Often ranked just below those three are Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. The remaining places in the top 10 are often rounded out by Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Andrew Jackson. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan are also sometimes ranked near the top. The bottom ten often include Warren G. Harding, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, Ulysses Grant, Millard Fillmore, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Richard Nixon. Both William Henry Harrison and James A. Garfield died shortly after entering office, and are therefore sometimes not included in the rankings as a result.
Political scientist Walter Dean Burnham noted the "dichotomous or schizoid profiles" of presidents, which can make some hard to classify. Historian Alan Brinkley said, "There are presidents who could be considered both failures and great or near great (for example, Nixon)". James MacGregor Burns observed of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking?"