Ranking the presidents from least to most experienced

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Presidential candidates toe a tough line in the race for the White House. It's crucial to prove they have the leadership skills needed to govern a nation. At the same time, contenders must paint themselves as Washington outsiders, because people tend to distrust politicians. An extensive political record can serve as both a pro and a con.

In the 2016 race, experience has helped and hurt the two major party candidates. Hillary Clinton's more than 20 years in the national spotlight have boosted her political résumé, but also given her opponents plenty of scandals and contradictions to use against her. For some, Donald Trump's lack of government experience makes him the perfect person to shake up Washington, yet it's caused others to question his ability to play politics.

To explore the pre-presidency backgrounds of previous Commanders-in-Chief, Graphiq politics site InsideGov ranked all 43 presidents from the least to most experienced. In the list, experience includes time holding elected or appointed office, or serving in a federal cabinet position. Though many great leaders have come from the military, this ranking only considered political experience. To qualify, positions had to be held for a year or more. Ties were broken chronologically, with earlier presidents ranked behind later ones.

After ranking presidents by political records, InsideGov looked at how each of them placed in the American Political Science Association's 2015 presidential ranking. This list considers each of the 43 Commander-in-Chief's achievements, leadership, failures and faults while in office.

Of the four men who had no political experience before assuming the presidency, only Dwight Eisenhower made it into the top 10 in the APSA ranking -- the others ranked 28th, 32nd and 33rd. Of the 11 people with 20 or more years in office prior to the White House, only one, Thomas Jefferson, made the top 10.

According to the APSA, the four most successful presidents had all spent between four and 10 years in public office, while the worst president in history was actually the one with the most previous experience in politics.

Let's begin the list with three generals who never held office before taking the White House, and count up to the 31-year political veteran who saw the Union collapse under his watch. APSA rankings are included on each slide for context.

Click through below to see the rankings:

44 PHOTOS
Ranking the US presidents from least to most experienced
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Ranking the US presidents from least to most experienced

Zachary Taylor: 0 years of experience

Served as the 12th President
Affiliation: Whig Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 33
Previous Positions: N/A

(Photo by Bettman via Getty Images)

Ulysses S. Grant: 0 years of experience

Served as the 18th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 28
Previous Positions: General

(Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Chester A. Arthur: 0 years of experience

Served as the 21st President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 32
Previous Positions: Vice President

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Dwight Eisenhower: 0 years of experience

Served as the 34th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 7
Previous Positions: General

(Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Andrew Jackson: 2 years of experience

Served as the 7th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 9
Previous Positions: Member of U.S. House of Representatives, United States Senator, Justice on Tennessee Supreme Court, Governor of the Florida Territory, United States Senator

(Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Grover Cleveland (1st term): 2 years of experience

Served as the 22nd and 24th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 23
Previous Positions: Sheriff of Erie County, NY; Mayor of Buffalo, NY; Governor of New York

(Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Woodrow Wilson: 2 years of experience

Served as the 28th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 10
Previous Positions: Governor of New Jersey

(Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images)

Theodore Roosevelt: 4 years of experience

Served as the 26th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 4
Previous Positions: Member of New York State Assembly, Member of Civil Service Commission, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, Vice President

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Franklin D. Roosevelt: 5 years of experience

Served as the 32nd President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 3
Previous Positions: Member of New York State Legislature, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York

(Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

George W. Bush: 5 years of experience

Served as the 43rd President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 35
Previous Positions: Governor of Texas

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Benjamin Harrison: 6 years of experience

Served as the 23rd President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 29
Previous Positions: United States Senator

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

William Howard Taft: 6 years of experience

Served as the 27th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 20
Previous Positions: Judge in Ohio Superior Court, U.S. Solicitor General, U.S. Circuit Court Judge, Governor of the Philippines, Secretary of War

(Photo by: Liverani/Andia/UIG via Getty Images)

George Washington: 7 years of experience

Served as the 1st President
Affiliation: No Party Affiliation
2015 Presidential Ranking: 2
Previous Positions: Member of Virginia House of Burgesses, Member of Continental Congress, Chairman of the Constitutional Convention

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Rutherford B. Hayes: 7 years of experience

Served as the 19th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 30
Previous Positions: Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Governor of Ohio

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Herbert Clark Hoover: 8 years of experience

Served as the 31st President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 38
Previous Positions: Secretary of Commerce

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Jimmy Carter: 8 years of experience

Served as the 39th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 26
Previous Positions: Georgia State Senator, Governor of Georgia

(Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Ronald Reagan: 8 years of experience

Served as the 40th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 11
Previous Positions: Governor of California

(Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)

Franklin Pierce: 9 years of experience

Served as the 14th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 40
Previous Positions: New Hampshire State Legislature, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Unites States Senate

(Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

Abraham Lincoln: 10 years of experience

Served as the 16th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 1
Previous Positions: Illinois State Legislature, Member of U.S. House of Representatives

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Harry S. Truman: 10 years of experience

Served as the 33rd President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 6
Previous Positions: County Court Judge, United States Senator, Vice President

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Barack Obama: 10 years of experience

Served as the 44th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 18
Previous Positions: Member of Illinois State Senate, United States Senator

(Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Calvin Coolidge: 11 years of experience

Served as the 30th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 27
Previous Positions: Northampton, Mass. City Councilman, City Solicitor, Clerk of Courts, Member of Massachusetts Legislature, Mayor of Northampton, Mass., Member of Massachusetts Legislature, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Governor of Massachusetts, Vice President

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Bill Clinton: 11 years of experience

Served as the 42nd President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 8
Previous Positions: Arkansas Attorney General, Governor of Arkansas

(Photo Bettmann via Getty Images)

Millard Fillmore: 12 years of experience

Served as the 13th President
Affiliation: Whig Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 37
Previous Positions: Member of New York State Assembly, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Comptroller of New York, Vice President

(Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Warren G. Harding: 12 years of experience

Served as the 29th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 42
Previous Positions: Member of Ohio State Senate, Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, United States Senator

(Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

John F. Kennedy: 13 years of experience

Served as the 35th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 14
Previous Positions: Member of U.S. House of Representatives, United States Senator

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Richard Nixon: 14 years of experience

Served as the 37th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 34
Previous Positions: Attorney for U.S. Office of Emergency Management, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, United States Senator, Vice President

(Photo by Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

George H. W. Bush: 15 years of experience

Served as the 41st President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 17
Previous Positions: Member of U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice President

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

James K. Polk: 16 years of experience

Served as the 11th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 19
Previous Positions: Member of Tennessee House of Representatives, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, Governor of Tennessee

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

John Adams: 17 years of experience

Served as the 2nd President
Affiliation: Federalist Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 15
Previous Positions: Member of Continental Congress, Commissioner to France, Minister to the Netherlands, Minister to England, Vice President

(Photo by Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

William McKinley: 17 years of experience

Served as the 25th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 21
Previous Positions: Governor of Ohio

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

James A. Garfield: 19 years of experience

Served as the 20th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 31
Previous Positions: Member of Ohio State Senate, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, United States Senate

(Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

Thomas Jefferson: 20 years of experience

Served as the 3rd President
Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 5
Previous Positions: Member of Virginia House of Burgesses, Member of Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, Member of Continental Congress, Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President

(Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)

James Madison: 20 years of experience

Served as the 4th President
Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 13
Previous Positions: Member of Virginia Constitutional Convention, Member of Continental Congress, Member of Virginia Legislature, Member of Constitutional Convention, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of State

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Martin Van Buren: 20 years of experience

Served as the 8th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 25
Previous Positions: New York State Senator, New York Attorney General, United States Senator, Governor of New York, Secretary of State, Minister to England, Vice President

(Photo by Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

William Henry Harrison: 20 years of experience

Served as the 9th President
Affiliation: Whig Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 39
Previous Positions: Secretary of Northwest Territory, Territorial Delegate to Congress, Territorial Governor of Indiana, U.S. Congressman from Ohio, United States Senator, Minister to Colombia

(Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

John Tyler: 21 years of experience

Served as the 10th President
Affiliation: Whig Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 36
Previous Positions: Member of Virginia House of Delegates, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia State Legislator, Governor of Virginia, United States Senator, Vice President, Member of Confederate States Congress

(Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

Andrew Johnson: 22 years of experience

Served as the 17th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 41
Previous Positions: Alderman of Greeneville, Tennessee; Mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee; Member of Tennessee State Legislature, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Governor of Tennessee, United States Senator, Military Governor of Tennessee, Vice President, United States Senator

(Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

James Monroe: 23 years of experience

Served as the 5th President
Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 16
Previous Positions: Member of Continental Congress, United States Senator, Minister to France, Governor of Virginia, Minister to France and England, Secretary of State, Secretary of War

(Photo by: Liverani/Andia/UIG via Getty Images)

John Quincy Adams: 25 years of experience

Served as the 6th President
Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 22
Previous Positions: Secretary to U.S. Minister to Russia, Minister to the Netherlands, Minister to Prussia, United States Senator, Minister to Russia, Peace Commissioner at Treaty of Ghent, Secretary of State

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Lyndon Johnson: 26 years of experience

Served as the 36th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 12
Previous Positions: Congressional Secretary, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, United States Senator, Vice President

(Photo via Bettmann via Getty Images)

Gerald Ford: 28 years of experience

Served as the 38th President
Affiliation: Republican Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 24
Previous Positions: Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Vice President

(Photo via Bettman via Getty Images)

James Buchanan: 31 years of experience

Served as the 15th President
Affiliation: Democratic Party
2015 Presidential Ranking: 43
Previous Positions: Member of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Member of U.S. House of Representatives, Minister to Russia, United States Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to England

(Photo by Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

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