Second Terms Tend to Be More Difficult

The Editors | February 8, 4:05 pm

As continued budget battles with Republicans threaten to envelop his next two years in office, President Barack Obama will use his Feb. 12 State of the Union address to outline a broad domestic policy agenda aimed at cementing a progressive legacy.

The president’s current favorable public approval ratings match the highs he enjoyed during his first year in office, but he need only look at recent history to grasp the challenges ahead. Since CQ Roll Call began tracking presidential success in 1953, every two-term president has seen his success on floor votes decline in the second term.

Obama, who won 72 percent of the votes on which he expressed a position in his first term, not only must overcome hostile Republicans and a dysfunctional Congress to avoid a similar slump, but he will have to contend with an array of well-financed conservative tax-exempt groups and super PACs capable of spending heavily to thwart his agenda.

Read more at State of the Union Preview: Old Hopes, New Realities

Interactive by Ted Benson and Sarah Vanderbilt