As reelection push begins, a report card on Obama’s political challenges

Vince Coglianese Contributor
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As President Obama begins his reelection campaign, he faces an array of obstacles. The unifying theme that helped him win the 2008 election is a faint memory. Even if the economy grows briskly over the next 18 months, the unemployment rate is likely to remain above 8 percent on Election Day.

Consider this a preliminary report card regarding some of the president’s challenges.

Political Identity: C. Who is this guy, and where does he want to take the country? Obama’s hope-and-change platform in 2008 allowed people to fill in whatever details they wanted. This strategy served a little-known candidate, but it’s untenable for an incumbent. Americans know that Obama has a vision—70 percent do, according to an April 9-10 CNN/Opinion Research poll of 824 adults.

But there are several obstacles for Obama. One is the bizarre birther phenomenon, which cuts both ways: It paints Republicans as crazy to independent voters; but it also provides an avenue for some voters to express views that might otherwise be taboo to discuss, perhaps about his race or his religion.

Full Story: NationalJournal.com – As Reelection Push Begins, a Report Card on Obama’s Political Challenges – Monday, April 18, 2011