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Assessing Obama's accomplishments

Amid the mixed public reviews of President Obama's handling of health care and the economy in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll stands one more even split, this one on how much the president has accomplished in his nine months in office.

About half (49 percent) say Obama has done "a great deal" or "a good amount" so far, half (50 percent) say "not much" or "little or nothing," with those on the far negative end of the scale (23 percent little to nothing) outweighing those on the most positive side (14 percent great deal).

Democrats are most apt to see a full resume, with 73 percent saying Obama's done a great deal or good amount. More than eight in 10 Republicans (84 percent), by contrast, say he hasn't gotten much done. Independents tilt toward the not so much side, 52 percent to 47 percent.

Asked in follow-up interviews what accomplishments stood out to them from Obama's first nine months in office, poll respondents who supported the president in the 2008 election cited the economy and taking the first steps on reforming health care, while those unhappy with the outcome see him leading in the wrong direction. More in their own words after the jump.

Q. Obama has been president for about nine months. Would you say he has accomplished a great deal during that time, a good amount, not very much or little or nothing?


SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Oct. 15-18 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Bill Cresswell, 56, of Mason Neck, Va., called Obama's top accomplishment "keeping the economy from totally collapsing. The economy may not be great now but I'm reasonably sure that if some dramatic steps hadn't been taken that we'd be in worse off shape than we are now."

Among those who approve of the job Obama's done so far, 75 percent feel he's ticked off a good deal of his to do list, while 86 percent of disapprovers say he's done very little. Reinterviews with poll participants suggest those who disapprove see his accomplishments as counterproductive.

Shaun Carr, 37, a poll respondent from Webster, NY, said, "I think he hasn't accomplished anything except really put handcuffs on the economy." Carr, who is in sales, said from what he's seen in his business travels, the stimulus package is not working. "I look at companies all over this country that are hurting and cutting people and trying to do 10 things with the same person that they used to do with 10 different people, it's tough all over."

Another poll taker, John Krinke of Sussex, Wisc., said he thinks Obama has just been doing the wrong things. "I didn't really know what to expect back in January," he said. "I was upset with the outcome of the election, but I wasn't a big fan of the Republican candidate either."

Since then, Krinke said, the bad has outweighed the good. "The stuff he's been doing right I haven't been paying that much attention to because it's being far overshadowed by the other things I wholeheartedly disagree with."

Some remain focused on the overall change in atmosphere.

Susan Beam, 44, a North Carolina realtor, said she thought his biggest achievement began with the mood struck during last year's campaign. "I think just creating a better atmosphere, an atmosphere of more hope and generosity in the world," she said.

"He's only been in there for nine months, and it's hard to accomplish a lot in that time. I hope that people will give him enough time to accomplish some of the things that are on his agenda, but I think we can't understimate the worth of generating hope and generosity."

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  October 20, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Post Polls  
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Someone really needs to ask these conservatives which one is it, has Obama not done anything much but give speeches or has he radically moved to destroy everything that is good about America in 9 months in office. How can you have done nothing when you've single-handedly destroyed the free market system, mortgaged the country's entire financial future in stimulus bill and bailouts to the banks and auto industry, hired a million and one czars to micro-manage every aspect of American life and used reverse racism to relegate white Americans to second class citizens? That sounds like a full 9 months of work to me!

Or maybe the Obama hasn't done anything is a simple insult used by Obama critics like the teleprompter (though I've never seen a President take as many questions straight from reporters as Obama) or the celebrity thing (which includes the Nobel Peace Prize) to attack the President, even though he's amassed quite a legislative record so far that is only awaiting its crown jewel in the form of near-universal health care within the next 2 months.

Posted by: johnnyspazm | October 20, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I'd prefer to see a list of what has changed and what is on tap to change, and how. An analysis would be great. This poll of people's perception of change does not seem newsworthy, especially when the Post hasn't provided the news gathering and analysis people need to inform that perception.

Instead of asking people what the news is, isn't the Post supposed to be reporting the news? Perhaps there's no one left at the Post to do that, since so many reporters and editors have been fired, and the Publisher has decided to reposition the paper to "delight and amuse" rather than inform, and spent all that money deciding what font to change to. Pretty!

Posted by: achamblee | October 20, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Susan Beam is a good illustration of the liberal mindset. Appeal to hope, and even incompetents like Odumbo can get elected.

Not from sleazy liberals, unless it's by giving away other peoples' money.

Odumbo and his cabal of leftists are destroying our country, and many citizens are too ignorant and uninformed to realize it. That's the real story.

Posted by: LarryG62 | October 20, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse


The WaPo, just like most major MSM outlets, prefers to tell you the results of polls or what GOP leaders say to actually reporting on what has happened any day of the week.

Posted by: howie14 | October 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I'll stick with the 'party line' it's always 'W's' fault.. grab a mop.. don't worry about Afghanistan.. we believe in this change.. let's tax the wealthiest Americans.. let's help our friends and berate our enemies...... I could go on ad infinitum..

Posted by: newbeeboy | October 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

What accomplishments are we talking about ?
Is it the Beer Summit or Cash for Clunkers ?
Either way Obama has done nothing and now is unable to make a decision on troops in Afghanistan while our young men and women are left floundering without a policy . Shameful behavior from the President .
Too much worry with global warming and not enough with the troops .

Posted by: skunkdad7 | October 20, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

What accomplishments?
Oh. You mean bringing us further into debt. He's doing an excellent job of that!

Posted by: 45upnorth | October 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I was not in favor of Obama as President, and I still think his best accomplishment is his ability to talk a good talk.

Seniors are getting less money to live on and prices for the neccities keep going up

The $250. offered SC is an insult. Just like to know what our President would do with such a large bonus????? Thats a joke son! The amount
after tax , as income, doesnt even cover my water bill. My SS money must must go for $6,000. property and school tax., meds, some food, co-pays, and maybe some new underwear.

In this economy (left by GWB) cannot sell my house and barely can pay for utilities.

If you have read this then you must know what I think of BO - it stinks! But Wall St. bonuses go on and on!

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | October 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

What is "a great deal"? Is the number things accomplished or the impact of what what accomplished. As a right of center Republican, I don't credit Obama with much. His only involvement in the Stimulus bill was signing it. The energy bill is languishing in the Senate in real trouble. In fact, he's not much more than the cheerleader-in-chief for all five health care reform bills in congress. He hardly ever takes a position on any facet of those bills.

On the other hand I see many mistakes and gaffs to the extent that I think his WH is dysfunctional and given the leadership qualities he has demonstrated so far, he won't be able to turn it around.

Posted by: Auburninbp | October 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

a monkey could accomplish a lot if they had a blank check backed by the U.S. treasury. unless he can balance the budget deficit he will be a complete failure.

Posted by: dummypants | October 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

dummypants said:
a monkey could accomplish a lot if they had a blank check backed by the U.S. treasury. unless he can balance the budget deficit he will be a complete failure.

whys it gotta be a monkey yo?? Obviously racist. Try the more P.C. "llama" or "squirrel" next time. Or if you wish to be a bit more whimsical say somthing like "Unicorn".

Posted by: moose6 | October 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Now we know why the Democrats who run Washington declared war on Fox News. The feisty network is spoiling White House policy of controlling Americans' diet of information.

Presumably, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn and her favorite political philosopher Chairman Mao don't have much in common — except making silencing their critics a priority.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | October 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I think he is doing a great job.
Obama inherited a huge mess. It took eight years to get us in this mess and people expect Obama to fix it in a few months...Why weren't you complaining when Bush was ruining our country.
Bush is the one who started the Stimulis....But unlike Bush Obama has used the money to create jobs,
Bush used our money to further pad pockets before he left office. Republicans have no right to gripe about anything after the mess they left us in...Quit whining and give Obama a chance.

Posted by: lis1 | October 20, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Accomplishments? How about America's economic recovery as a starting point:

- The Dow is UP 53% (from March 2009 lows) – 10,000.

- The Nasdaq is UP 70% (").

- In May, U.S. home prices rose for the first time in THREE YEARS.

- In June, new home sales rose 11%.

- New jobless claims in June 2009 were 522,000 - DOWN from 700,000 in January 2009.

- Consumer prices down for the first time in 59 YEARS.

- Sales of previously owned U.S. homes jumped 7.2 percent in July to mark the fastest sales pace in nearly two years, an August industry survey showed, in a strong sign that housing is pulling out of a three-year slump.

-Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the stimulus package added 2.3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2009 and will likely add more during the third.

- In August, Industrial production rose 0.8 percent last month, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, following a 1 percent rise in July. The July increase had been the first since October 2008, and the report is among the strongest evidence yet that the economy made a shift this summer from contraction to expansion, at least as measured by gross domestic product.

- New jobless claims DROPPED AGAIN in August, and then in September.

- The net worth of American households grew between April and July, the first quarterly gain in nearly two years, boosted largely by rising stock and home prices

- The unemployment rates for Maryland and Virginia FELL in August for the second consecutive month… MD from 7.3% to 7.2% and VA from 6.9% to 6.5%..., according to government data released Friday.

Posted by: free-donny | October 20, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The biggest failure since Hoover? Sure heading that way. But, of course, he always has people to BLAME for his failures, doesn't he? "The BUCK stops THERE!!!!

Posted by: DL13 | October 20, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

There little doubt the right has no interest in honestly assessing the first 10 months of the Obama Administration.

When you center your discussion around sophomoric names Odumbo, or monkey, or Chairman Mao, etc., then obviously your partisan ideology will block any relevant insight possible.

My primary concern about the Obama's early efforts is in the details of where the appropriated funds have been spent. I would have liked to have seen a much greater percentage of these stimulus funds spent on repairing our nation's crumbling infrastructure.

Posted by: BuckDunn | October 20, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Susan Beam wrote:
...I think we can't understimate the worth of generating hope and generosity."

That all looks good on paper but the reality is, he told a predominantly Christian nation that "We are no longer a Christian nation." He tried to cut this country off at the knees with that statement but he effectively 'woke the sleeping giant.' To those of us who believe in God, with a statement like Obama's, we ask who is our God then? The Believers of God can quickly answer that and figure out what is at play here. The unbelievers or those who struggle with belief may not see the implications and those implications are... the Government now gives you everything you need. And who is the Government head? You guessed it....Barack Obama. So my point is, since God is being removed from our society, the Federal government is convincing people that they (the government) are the new Saviors bringing generosity & hope aplenty. We Believers know better. We understand what is happening and we will fight for our God and our Country as we have been taught to do. We know a attempt to takeover when we see one.

Posted by: ssol4569 | October 20, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

BuckDunn -
Anita Dunn, who was appointed by Barack Obama as White House Communications Director, told high school students in June that one of her "favorite political philosophers" was Chairman Mao, the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, whose Communist regime liquidated at least 70 million, dwarfing both Stalin and Hitler.

Sophomoric, indeed. However, amateur hour at the White House is not blocking any relevant insight whatsoever. We are free to use this administration's praise of Chairman Mao as one indicator of President Obama's progress, so spare us your sophomoric Anita Dunn-like tendencies to try to silence Obama's critics.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | October 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing excuses from the obama people that ...WE inhereted these problems from Bush. It isn't like they didn't know how bad it was before hand. During Obamas campain and debates he addressed problems and what we was going to do to fix them if elected. He already knew how bad things were and a lot of people voted for him Because he came accross as understanding how bad things were and that he had all the right answers on how to fix them. I hear others saying that he hasn't been in office long enough to do much. I beg to differ he has been in office long enough to do great damage to this country and it will take a years to fix it. But he won't be around then and nether will you or I because it will take that long to recover.

Posted by: rainman2 | October 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Agiesta titles her article, "Assessing Obama's accomplishments".

Logical fallacy. There first must be accomplishments before an assessment. This is much like awarding a Nobel Peace Prize based upon promises rather than deeds.

A frequent excuse for Obama and his failure as a president is "he needs more time."

American families do not have time to spare. Our American families have lost their jobs, lost their homes, are in the Poor House, living on the streets and our American children are going hungry.

Meanwhile, Obama shoots hoops, grins and says, "Just a couple more rim shots and I will think about hungry American children, well, after Michelle and I come back from a million dollar dinner date."

Of course this dinner tab is picked up by American taxpayers who are eyeballing Skippy canned dog food as a way to feed their hungry children.

"Give Obama more time." Sure, give him more time to lead his jet setter lavish lifestyle while America falls farther into dire poverty.

American families do not have time to give nor food to give to their children.

America needs immediate solutions not more empty promises from an empty suit shooting hoops with Fat Cats from Wall Street.

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation
Puma Politics

Posted by: PurlGurl | October 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

There is a constant misunderstanding about the executive branch of government,they are either given credit or blamed for things that they have little involvement in.

If you like the health care bills, thank the legislators sponsoring them. If you don't like them, elect new legislators. If you liked the stimulus bill thank your legislators. If you don't like it, elect new legislators.

If Obama has done anything, it is his failure to use his veto pen when he should have. He has supported creating the greatest debt in American history through stimulus plans that have not improved the lives of the average working American. He has not taken any direction in areas where he has authority like the military. He now supports creating more huge government programs that over the years have proven to be ineffective and expensive like medicare and Social Security. Instead of fixing the broken programs he wants to add new ones. This can only lead to more debt, higher costs because lets face it nothing the government does is cheaper than the competitive market, and it will be filled with restrictions and red tape because legislature will demand it. Like most presidents, his election promises were quickly crushed by the reality of American governmental operations. Ask any elected official from small town to federal government and they will tell you they wanted to effect change but quickly found out that government red tape, political positioning and an ill informed and non-concerned public prevented them from being successful.

We have simply reached a place where big government hinders our flexibility and the only thing that changes it is big money.
The comments here are valid, someone needs to report on what this president or any other for that matter, has done. Not what the legislature has done, not what they promised to do, but what have they proposed and followed through on. What documents and actions have their names on the introduction. Its easy to ride the bandwagon on someone elses work, but show me his work. Then I can make better decision about our presidents.

The power has always rested with the people but the people don't understand or don't care enough to make real change. Clean out Washington insiders who for years have learned how to control the red tape in their favor with a whole new lot of eager and aggressive thinkers and you'll see change. Don't elect people that appoint Washington insiders to run their operations if you expect change. We get what we paid for we just didn't pay attention to what we were buying.

Posted by: westlayne | October 20, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Free Donny cites typical misleading left liberal bragging points,

"- The Dow is UP 53% (from March 2009 lows) – 10,000."

American family investment portfolios are down 50% across the board. There is no volume in the markets. This stock market action is simply Wall Street manipulating stock prices for profit.

"- In May, U.S. home prices rose for the first time in THREE YEARS."

Money backed investors and speculators are snapping up homes at bargain prices with intent to rent and earn future profits. Home prices are down 35% to 50% depending on region. Foreclosures continue to skyrocket.

"- New jobless claims in June 2009 were 522,000 - DOWN from 700,000 in January 2009."

Our "real" unemployment rate is 20% nationally and unemployment continues to dramatically climb. You logic is, "The patient is dying more slowly. This is good!"

"- Consumer prices down for the first time in 59 YEARS."

My presumption is you are unfamiliar with "deflation" which is devastating our economy and small businesses.

However, I understand your Obama Kool-Aid has a significant future price tag attached.

Our economy continues to worsen, jobs continue to be lost, more American children are going hungry. All the while, you shoot hoops with Obama and drink his Jim Jones Kool-Aid during breaks.

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation
Puma Politics

Posted by: PurlGurl | October 20, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there is a lot more "hope" in the country since 0bama took office:

I hope I don't lose my job.

I hope they don't foreclose on my house.

I hope the Iranians don't develop a nuke.

I hope the North Korean's don't USE their nuke.

I hope the 0bama administration fails in trying to make this a socialist country.

I hope the Yankees hold on against the Angels and get into the World Series again.

Posted by: Nick_in_Alexandria | October 20, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Nick_in_Alexandria quips, "I hope the Yankees hold on against the Angels and get into the World Series again."

Ha! Ha! Ironically, that is your most promising hope!

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation
Puma Politics

Posted by: PurlGurl | October 20, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

When people now ask:

"Someone really needs to ask these conservatives which one is it, has Obama not done anything much but give speeches or has he radically moved to destroy everything that is good about America in 9 months in office"

you realize how far off to one side, the yardstick for measuring his accomplishments has shifted....I can never remember this being said about any President in my lifetime---goes back to JFK; and in only 9 monthes.

I mean a cell of MAO TSE TUNG followers appointed to high positions in the Obama administration was just uncovered; what will people find tomorrow?

.....getting 'fisted' in Maine and not liking it one bit!

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | October 20, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Interesting take. Hard to understand what anyone can call an accomplishment! To acomplish something it must be put into effect. The economy, health care, Afghanistan, Iran, employment, etc... are all still in work, not one brought to fruition yet. I dread the results!

Economy: Worst unemployment to come. What ever happened to the "unemployment won't exceed 8%". As Biden said, "we misread the economy". Our VP!

Health care: Still not a single plan that saisfies Americans and it looks like whichever plan goes forward, it will all burden our astounding deficit, now 1.4 trillion dollars. I guess we could call that an accmplishment as it is in effect as result of the Obama administration!

Afghanistan: Our troops die, Obama will arrive at a decision.......when cows fly.

Iran: a real joke here. No support from Russia or China regarding sanctions. That is what you get for sitting down with anyone without any "pre conditions". Our President....naive!

Employment: administration claims to have saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. A real twist of facts when unemployment continues to rise. These are words, just words.

Despite controlling the media, save Fox news, the word is getting out.

Check the Chicago Sun Times today:

"The White House trying to dictate who's a news organization. Democrats out to gut a business group. Obama media allies damning Americans as racist, unpatriotic and treasonous. Is this the America Obama promised when he campaigned to end the cynical and divisive politics of the past?"

Accomplishments? Only in the eyes of the Washington Post!

Posted by: theartbrifl785 | October 20, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama has done alot so far.His stimulas package scared off investors and those who would create jobs but he did pay back his friends and unions. He has destroyed the dollar with his spending and proposed spending. He has bolstered our enemys and scared our allies with his apology tour.He has replaced Clinton and Nixon as the sleaziest liar. He has also awakened a spirit of freedom in America and those who feel it will vote him and his socialist friends out.

Posted by: mikem12 | October 20, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama has done alot so far.His stimulas package scared off investors and those who would create jobs but he did pay back his friends and unions. He has destroyed the dollar with his spending and proposed spending. He has bolstered our enemys and scared our allies with his apology tour.He has replaced Clinton and Nixon as the sleaziest liar. He has also awakened a spirit of freedom in America and those who feel it will vote him and his socialist friends out.

Posted by: mikem12 | October 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Why use oratory just list his promises and check them off:

1. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan - No
2. Gays in the Miltiary - No
3. GITMO Closed - No
4. Better relations with foreign countries - Yes Norway/No Iran and North Korea (Thank goodness I was worried about Norway's nukes)
5. More jobs better economy - No
6. Healthcare - No
7. Olympics - No

Well let's see. Hmmms doesn't look like he has tdone too bad. We still have hope.

Posted by: staterighter | October 20, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

All Obama must do to turn this around is to resolve the problems he inherited in January.

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | October 20, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why did we bailed out these ailed or ailing banks with tax payer's money? These prosthetic US banks are now turning into consumers nightmare. They charge consumers with unreasonable high interest rates (up to 32%)and surprising annual fee. This is my experience with chase. The bank doesn't even post transactions in a timely manner so that the account will go over the limit to lure customers into over the limit fee. When one makes payment, the bank wont post it correctly in a timely manner. The bail out money people gave to them was like putting band aid to damn cracks. With these deceptive practices the rest of the world may refuse to accept US based credit cards altogether. Would like to know these type of experiences.

Posted by: anonymouse0007 | October 20, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LYSONBAZILE | October 21, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

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