The Obama Legacy

November 4, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 39
Has his presidency been successful?
By Kenneth Jost


President Obama and first lady Michelle leave the Capitol (AFP/Getty Images/Tannen Maury)
President Obama and first lady Michelle leave the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2009, after his inauguration as the nation's first African-American president. Obama outlined an ambitious agenda in his inaugural address and quickly began reversing policies adopted by his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. Within less than three weeks, he had signed into law a $787 billion stimulus package aimed at ending the worst recession since the Great Depression. (AFP/Getty Images/Tannen Maury)

As Barack Obama nears the end of eight years in the White House, he has several major accomplishments to point to, but a longer list of unfinished initiatives and unrealized ambitions. Obama started strong in 2009 with a Democratic-controlled Congress that approved, in the face of Republican opposition, a much needed economic stimulus and later the intensely controversial Affordable Care Act. But he had fewer legislative victories after 2010, when Republicans won a majority in the House. Obama wound down the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Iraq even as the Islamic State posed new dangers to American interests in the region. The economy has improved, but many Americans are pessimistic about the future. And while Obama had hoped to bring Americans together, race relations remain tense and political polarization persists. In addition, some of Obama's important projects in such areas as immigration, climate change and trade are on hold in the courts or in Congress. His legacy may depend on the outcome of the bitterly divided presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sep. 30, 2022  Latino Voters
Oct. 12, 2018  Election Security and Voting Rights
Nov. 04, 2016  The Obama Legacy
Oct. 29, 2010  Democrats' Future
Apr. 24, 2009  Judicial Elections
May 30, 2008  Changing U.S. Electorate Updated
Mar. 12, 2004  Redistricting Disputes
Nov. 02, 2001  Election Reform
Oct. 20, 2000  Low Voter Turnout
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Alliances and Security Agreements
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Climate Change
Economic Crises
Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination
Gays and Lesbians in the Military
General International Relations
Iraq War
Judicial Appointments
Medicaid and Medicare
Middle East Conflicts
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
Unemployment and Employment Programs