Poll: Obama leaves office on high note, but public has mixed views of accomplishments

With just a few weeks left in Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans’ early judgments of his place in history are more positive than negative. Obama is poised to leave office on a high note: Current assessments of both the president and the first lady are among the most favorable since they arrived in the White House.

At the same time, many express skepticism about whether Obama has been able to make progress on the major problems facing the nation, and whether his accomplishments will outweigh his failures. Democrats and Republicans have distinctly different views on Obama’s legacy, and these partisan divides are greater today than they have been for other recent presidents.

And when asked in an open-ended question what Obama will be most remembered for, more cite the Affordable Care Act – which faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Congress – than anything else.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 5 among 1,502 adults, finds that 45% expect Obama to be remembered as an above average or outstanding president, while 26% expect he will be viewed as average, and about as many (27%) say he’ll be seen as a below average or poor president.