News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

Apr. 29,  2009

100 Days: Experts Evaluate President Obama's Performance

As President Barack Obama hits the 100-day benchmark in his administration, Emory University experts weigh in on how the President and his administration are doing so far.

High marks amid economic concerns

• "The 100 day benchmark is too short of a time to really judge a president’s performance, but so far Obama has done well overall in the major areas, including the economy, social policy, foreign and defense policy and his cabinet, despite some rough spots in the beginning with the vetting process," says Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science and a renowned expert on national politics and elections. "He hasn't had much success winning support from Republicans, but that is more a reflection of the growing ideological divisions between the parties than lack of effort."

Obama’s biggest success thus far has been getting the stimulus package passed, as well as grappling with the issue of climate change, he says.

"It will take many more months to evaluate the impact of Obama's economic policies but the stimulus package was an essential step toward addressing the multitude of economic challenges. The condition of the credit markets and effectiveness of the financial rescue plan remain big concerns," Abramowitz says.

Keeping trust of public vital for future success

• "So far, so good," says Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie. "He’s had a lot to deal with in the first 100 days, but he’s played the hand he was dealt, and while not perfect, he has maintained the trust of the American people in addressing the many problems facing the nation. Holding on to that trust while working on some monumental structural changes is to his credit."  

Gillespie, who researches political mobilization and race, as well as competition between minority groups, is the editor of the forthcoming "Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership."

A ‘solid leader’ so far

Peter Topping, an associate professor of organization and management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School who specializes in teaching and research about leadership, says that how individuals evaluate President Obama's first 100 days is highly correlated with one's political perspective, but that overall the President appears to be perceived as being a solid leader.

"His approval ratings are higher than when he was initially elected and the initial fears of his lack of experience being problematic early have not materialized; the successful rescue of the merchant ship captain undoubtedly helped the President's leadership image," Topping says.

"The President appears actively engaged across a variety of stages -- domestic, international, ceremonial and military. His relative youthful aura of high energy comes across well," he says.

One troublesome area is the seemingly unprecedented scrutiny under which the administration is being examined. "This is concerning as it may lead to more risk aversive behavior than we need," Topping says. 

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