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Presidential Second Terms: How Obama Stacks Up

Jeff Head

From Iraq to immigration, President Obama has come under criticism lately for ineffectual leadership. But from declining public approval, to a propensity for congressional gridlock, second presidential terms have long been plagued by such perceptions. We’re looking at President Obama’s second term -- the ways our political system limits what he can do and how the media covers this office.


  • Anita Kumar White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.
  • Brendan Nyhanassistant professor of political science at Dartmouth College. His research includes misperceptions about politics, and he contributes to The Upshot at the New York Times.


  • Brendan Nyhan on 'Obama and the Myth of Presidential Control': "At the same time, the powers of the presidency are outstripped by the unrealistic expectations placed on the chief executive in the modern era. When problems arise, it’s only natural that people want the most powerful person in the country to fix them, but these demands often lack a plausible account of how the problem could be solved. And even when the president has a proposal that he thinks would provide a solution, he’s likely to struggle to persuade Congress or the public to support it, as Mr. Reagan discovered despite his reputation as the “Great Communicator.”"

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