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January 23, 2013

Is Obama on a Path Towards Greatness?

Nate Silver: "Mr. Obama ran for and won a second term, something only about half of the men to serve as president have done (the tally is 20 or 21 out of 43, depending on how you count Grover Cleveland). We can also note, however, that Mr. Obama's re-election margin was relatively narrow. Do these simple facts provide any insight at all into how he might be regarded 20, 50 or 100 years from now?"

"Over all, there is a positive relationship between a president's performance in the Electoral College when seeking a second term, and how the historians have ranked him. (The regression line in the chart below predicts that Mr. Obama will eventually come to be regarded as about the 17th-best president, somewhere on the boundary between good and average.) But it is an extremely rough guide -- especially for the presidents who are successful in winning a second term, and who have an opportunity to enhance or undermine their reputations. Voters may judge a president's first term, but history will judge his second."


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