President Barack Obama: How He Won & Early Successes

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Monday marks the 70th day of President Barack Obama's presidency. I thought it would be interesting to look back at how we got here and — more importantly — to examine exactly what his administration has achieved over the past seventy days.

How Barack Obama Won

By now, most of us can list the reasons how President Obama won the 2008 election. However, it is always a good policy to find solid research and reporting that source those reasons. Chronicling the events of history allows us to remain an informed citizenry — and gives us data points for understanding how to model future success from best practices of the past.

The following are a selection of readings discussing how President Barack Obama won the 2008 election:

  1. “Why Obama Won” (CBS) — A very short, basic, but good summary of how he did it.
  2. “The Issues Changed: How Obama Won in a Landslide” (Public Policy Polling) — This is a 5-page memo from a polling group that illustrates how the economy replaced immigration as a key issue in the swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, and how that led to Obama's victory.
  3. “Surge in Minority Voting Pushed Obama Over the Top” (McClatchy) — A news article hosted on the Project Vote website that looks at exit polling data analysis of minority voters.
  4. Newsweek's Secrets of the 2008 Campaign — A very long, extensive series of articles on the 2008 election. The link will direct you to the first chapter in the series, titled, “How He Did It.” There are seven chapters overall — just above the article headline are links to the other chapters — which discuss Obama vs. Clinton, McCain emerging from the primary, Sarah Palin, the final days, etc.
  5. “Battle Plans: How Obama Won” (The New Yorker)  — One of their trademark lengthy pieces.
  6. “The Man Who Made Obama” (Esquire) — This extensive profile of David Plouffe tellsl the story of the campaign through the eyes of one of the architects that thought it all through and helped make it all happen.
  7. E.Politics Series on Obama & the Internet — This is an excellent series that breaks down exactly how Obama used the internet to win his election. The series contains a series of hyperlinks; reading it will naturally lead the reader to shorter stories about Obama's campaign and the internet. Within the wide-ranging series, the following are some of the most useful links:

Those are just a small collection of the resources that already exist explaining how President Barack Obama won. If you have other good resources you would like to share, please leave a comment below and share them with the community.

Early Successes of the President Barack Obama Administration

President Obama continues to encourage patience on the single most dominant issue facing the country: the economic crisis. Rarely a day goes by that he does not remind the American public about the challenges ahead over the coming years. Though the stimulus package passed through Congress in mid-February remains the trademark piece of legislation, there are numerous other policies he has signed off on that have clearly demonstrated a departure from the President Bush-era of governance.

The following are a sample of the legislative highlights and early successes of President Obama's administration:

  1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – From the bill's Wikipedia page, which provides the simplest yet most comprehensive information on the legislation (a tribute to Web 2.0 organization):

    The Act specifies that 37% of the package is to be devoted to tax cuts equaling $288 billion and $144 billion or 18% is allocated to state and local fiscal relief (more than 90% of the state aid is going to Medicaid and education). 45% or $357 billion is allocated to federal social programs and federal spending programs.

  2. Expansion of SCHIP – The law, which was vetoed twice by President Bush, expands health care coverage for 4 million children, in addition to the 6 million children already enrolled in the program.
  3. Lifts Ban on Stem Cell Research – President Obama's executive order rescinds the previous policy of the Bush administration and, as it states:

    The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.

  4. Ban on Torture – Another executive order from President Obama, this one is an extensive statement encouraging “lawful interrogations” and ending, without questoin, the former practices of torture pursued by President Bush.
  5. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – The law will make it easier for workers to receive fair pay.
  6. Grants California Authority to Pass Higher CAFE Standards – President Obama's directive allows California to set CAFE standards that go above and beyond the national standards, a policy President Bush instructed the EPA to halt. Though President Obama's new fuel economy rules have sparked a debate, his policies are a clear improvement on those of President Bush.
  7. EPA Review of Mountaintop Mining Permits – Another departure from President Bush, the agency will more aggressively review and potentially limit the practice of mountaintop mining, which has devastated the Appalachia region.
  8. Removal of Abortion-Related Rules for Foreign Aid Groups – The memorandum signed by President Obama will end “prohibition on supplying federal family-planning funds and contraceptives to international aid groups that provide abortions, abortion referrals or abortion counseling.”
  9. Establishment of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Contracts – The executive order from President Obama states:

    It is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.

  10. Overturns President Bush's Endangered Species Rule – The new rule restores the practice — which President Bush ended — that agencies must check with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine if new projects will affect the livelihood of endangered species.

Those are just some of the new laws, rules, and policies President Obama has ushered through in his first 70 days in office. Though there remains tremendous work to do, I sincerely believe that he has done excellent so far, and have confidence that he will continue to do his best going forward.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. Blast from the past
    I'm only part way through Newsweek (#4) and may have to put off finishing until tomorrow.  Most of it seems kind of old hat.  I'm sure I read this or similar stuff at the time.  However, so far this is a nice and very enjoyable summary.

    I'm smiling!  Thanks!

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