Has Obama Kept His Promises?

Jan 6 2012 @ 2:13pm

Jonathan Bernstein checks in:

According to Politifact’s "Obameter," Obama made 508 separate promises during the campaign. Of these, he has fulfilled, by the Obameter’s count, 158, or just under a third—everything from ordering the troop surge in Afghanistan to removing don’t ask, don’t tell to reforming health care to reducing strategic nuclear weapons. He has broken, again according to Politifact’s count, fifty-four promises, just over 10 percent. But even on these, such as failing to end the Bush tax rates for upper-income taxpayers and passing "card check” for unions, generally the story is that Obama wound up placing a low priority on some items and was defeated on them.

What I think is most telling is that of the original 508 promises, only two—two!—are "not yet rated," implying that there’s been no action at all. What the Obameter is reallyScreen shot 2012-01-06 at 1.02.30 AM telling us is the same thing that political scientists have found: presidents certainly try to carry out their campaign promises, and they succeed in many cases, although they’ll push harder on some things than on others, and they are sometimes defeated or forced to compromise. Campaign promises set the presidential agenda, even when they don’t tell you which items will pan out and which won’t.

(Image from the WaPo's own feature of "key promises" from  Obama's first campaign)