Hart asked voters in a focus group which president Obama reminds them of, and none said Clinton or Jack Kennedy. They cited FDR, for obvious reasons, such as that Obama, like Roosevelt, inherited a dire economy. And they said Jimmy Carter, which is a risky comparison for any president. But when Hart probed, he discovered voters were not thinking of Carter in terms of his weaknesses. They liked his sense of moral values, reinforced by his post-presidency humanitarian efforts.

Voters see Obama as a solid family man, and it’s a point of connection that he sorely needs. Two years into his presidency, the public is having a hard time coming to grips with him, argues Hart. They are taking his measure and trying to figure out who he is, and where to place him on the compendium of presidents. They like him, they’re rooting for him, and they want him to be the JFK for the 21st century. But his presidency has been too choppy and lacking in theatrics for voters to get a good grasp on what Obama is all about.