In his first term in office, he pursued a broad agenda that included winding down the war in Iraq, expanding the war in Afghanistan, enacting an $833 billion stimulus to try to stabilize the economy and implementing the largest social program in decades with his health care law, which he now will have a chance to see through to fruition.
For his second term, he has set out another expansive legislative wish-list, including fighting for an overhaul of the country’s immigration system and, after last month’s shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., for stricter gun controls.
But he also will have to pay attention to a burgeoning national debt, and he will have to pursue his agenda without the kind of congressional support he had for much of his first year in office, when an overwhelming House majority and a filibuster-proof helped him.
In November, voters re-elected Mr. Obama amid tough economic times, rejecting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and sending the GOP into a period of soul-searching.
Mr. Obama won the Electoral College vote by a significant margin, 332-206, and the popular vote 51 percent to Mr. Romney’s 47 percent. Still, both numbers are down from his historic 2008 victory, when he energized a nation and voters expected an era of post-partisanship.
But some of the harshest partisan battles of recent political history took place during his first term. Mr. Obama won passage of his stimulus program and his health care law with almost no Republican votes.
Those battles have fostered a public weary of the bickering and uncertain about what government can — or should — be doing.
Mr. Obama’s repeat victory marks just the second time in history that the U.S. will have had three straight two-term presidents.
The only other time was when Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe served in succession.
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Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
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