The Obameter: Rating President Obama’s promises over the years

Jan 06, 2017

(This article from PolitiFact is reprinted here because of a collaboration between Reboot Illinois and the Pulitzer Prize-winning national website PolitiFact. For fact checks reported as part of this partnership, visit the PolitiFact Illinois website.)

When Barack Obama took office as the 44th president of the United States, PolitiFact created an unprecedented database of his 533 campaign promises and spent the past eight years amassing the definitive account of his record.

Below, PolitiFact broke down how many promises Obama kept, compromised and broke during his eight years in office. The official breakdown: 257 promises kept, 147 promises compromised, 129 promises broken.



Obama had several overarching priorities: Get the economy back on track, impose new regulations on the financial sector, pass a health care plan, overhaul immigration law and address climate change.

As his presidency concludes, PolitiFact’s Obameter shows 48 percent of his promises rated Promise Kept, while another 28 percent were part of a Compromise. He broke 24 percent of them.

When he had Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2009, Obama got a lot done. He signed into law three major pieces of legislation: a massive economic stimulus package called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the financial regulations known as Dodd-Frank and the health care law formally known as the Affordable Care Act, more often called Obamacare. When Obama lost unified government in the 2010 election, bills on immigration and climate change were left undone. The Democrats never regained power, and Obama had trouble pushing through his agenda. His decision to use executive power infuriated Republicans in Congress and prompted challenges in court. But it also helped him follow through on a number of things he promised voters.

This project explores Obama’s legacy with in-depth reports on his promises about the economy, Iraq and Afghanistan, health care, climate change, drug sentencing, taxes and bipartisanship.

Obama’s successes and failures highlight both the fractious nature of Washington and the fragility of a president’s influence and legacy. His record holds lessons for voters, the next Congress and the new president, who campaigned on promises to unwind Obama’s signature achievements.

To see the interactive version of the graph above, click here. 

Reboot Illinois will be publishing a series of PolitiFact Obameter stories in the final days of Obama’s presidency. Stay tuned for updates. 


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