Obama's Popularity

© 2009 - Ben Heine

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Obama Popular
Despite Challenges

By David Zussman

The United States is a great sporting nation and, as a result, Americans like keeping score and handicapping most public events. The performance of their presidents is no exception and, since the early days of the Roosevelt presidency, the media have marked the first 100 days by providing a report card based on their performance.

It is generally acknowledged that no other U.S. president has arrived in office with higher expectations than Barack Obama, and more difficult problems. It is, therefore, not surprising that he has been subjected to a steeper learning curve than his predecessors.

By the time Obama was sworn in on Jan. 20, the U.S. financial system was in freefall, the credit markets were becoming unglued, house prices were tumbling, and a half-dozen foreign hotspots required presidential attention. It is difficult to imagine how it could have been more challenging.

Since the 100-day mark is an artificial marker, the White House staff was reluctant to join in on the rating game but their efforts proved futile.

Once they realized that it was going to be impossible to blunt the media's interest in rating the administration's performance, some senior staff tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to lower the public's expectations regarding Obama's early accomplishments by assigning themselves a B-plus. And finally, the White House embraced the 100-day anniversary, with the president appearing at last month's 100-day town hall celebration in St. Louis.

At this point, given all of the challenges and difficulties encountered by Obama, he remains a very popular political leader. In fact, according to the Pew Foundation, his personal popularity is higher than the ratings for his individual programs.

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