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Tough Times for the President: Political Adversity and the Sources of Executive Pow ...

Chapter 1:  Presidents in Tough Times
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Tough Times for the President:

Chapter 1

Presidents in Tough Times

As Barack Obama celebrated the second anniversary of his election as president, he faced a political situation that called into question what he had done for the past two years and his political future. His job approval ratings—which had been nearly 66% shortly after he took office early in 2009—hovered near or below 50% throughout 2010, with a correspondingly high disapproval rating. On the day of the congressional midterm elections (November 2, 2010), the Gallup survey reported that a higher percentage of respondents (49%) disapproved of his performance as president than approved of it (44%).1 In the 2010 congressional midterm elections, voters across the nation elected Republican candidates, giving the opposition party a sizable majority in the House (242 Republicans to 193 Democrats) and narrowing the Democrats’ majority in the Senate (53 Democrats to 47 Republicans). Independent voters, who had been so important to Obama’s victory in 2008, had abandoned the president and Democratic candidates. Political observers and party officials were speculating about whether the president could win reelection in 2012. Unemployment remained high, the economy was still weak, and the president’s conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seemed to satisfy neither his antiwar base nor his conservative critics. The euphoria of Election Night