Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Though modern candidates will campaign on strong party lines, the reality is that presidents eventually have to make compromises or get stymied by legislators who will oppose them at every turn. This is one of the major issues Carter couldn't overcome; his refusal to compromise after early successes led to the the tides turning against him. In the public eye he was deemed to be too serious at times and ineffective at others.
George W. Bush (2001-2009)
W had the misfortune of having the biggest terrorist attack on American soil fall right into his lap, which put him in a “damned if we do, damned if we don't” situation. But with the bungled War on Terror and massive dismantling of civil liberties brought about by the Patriot Act, Bush's legacy isn't one most are proud of. Even now Republican views of his presidency are highly critical.
Barack Obama (2009-2017)
It would be unfair to include Bush on this list without mentioning his successor. Mass surveillance continued to grow under his watch. Moreover, expanded use of drone warfare, which many critics believe leads to more civilian casualties, caused difficulties at home and abroad. What he had hoped to be his legacy, The Affordable Care Act, is still a point of contention from both major political parties.
Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Franklin Pierce is seen as partially responsible for the mess Buchanan would walk into. As Congress become more divided over issues relating to slavery, Pierce did little to control things, instead acting more as an audience or commentator to the battling groups. He was quick to criticize what he felt were extremist views from the North but not enough to criticize extremist views from the South, ultimately doing little to try and bring both sides together.
Gerald Ford (1974 – 1977)
Ford became president after Nixon's resignation. At a time when the public's trust was at an all-time low, Ford could choose between rebuilding the relationship between government and its people or sparing Nixon, a man he greatly respected. He chose Nixon, immediately turning the public against him. Though he felt pardoning Nixon was the proper thing to do it did so much to tarnish his image that it played a major factor in him losing re-election to Carter.