Who is the Most Qualified Presidential Candidate Ever?

Many Hillary Clinton supporters respond to accusations from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that Clinton is “not qualified” by counter-asserting that she is the “most qualified candidate ever”. Now, these people are often using “qualified” to refer to very different things–Sanders said Clinton was not qualified because she takes money from Super PACs and Trump says she’s not qualified because of her judgment, but when Clinton supporters use the term “qualified” they aren’t denying that she took Super PAC money or even necessarily arguing that she has good judgment. The claim that Clinton is most qualified is made as if it were a statement of obvious fact–it reads not like a nuanced argument about judgment but more like a fact claim about experience. Clinton is said to be “most qualified” because she has the most and the best experience of anyone, and the people saying this do so with a confidence that indicates they don’t think it’s close. This strikes me as a pretty bold historical claim, so I decided to investigate to see where Clinton ranks for experience and to see whether experience has a significant effect on the way historians think about a president’s performance.

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