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Seeking a second term, President Barack Obama may have the usual incumbent advantage of name recognition. As a relative political newcomer in the 2008 election, he managed to defeat Hillary Clinton, whom he trailed in both polls and fundraising for most of that campaign cycle.
As president, Obama's public approval ratings have had the usual ups and downs, and they averaged 47 percent in April and May 2012, according to Gallup polls. That rating is the same as George W. Bush's presidential approval rating during the spring before his re-election in 2004. President Obama's term has been marked by his leadership throughout a long-running national recession, the establishment of democratic elections in Iraq and withdrawal of U.S. forces serving in the Iraq War, the detention and death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Supreme Court's recent vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act health care reform.
Despite being at the helm throughout the economic storm and other major challenges, President Obama faces widespread opposition. The U.S. unemployment rate held steady around 8 percent during the spring of 2012. Insurgents continue intermittent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and additional conflicts are arising in the Middle East. Opponents of President Obama's healthcare reforms say that the federal government is overstepping its bounds, and Republicans have vowed to try to repeal the legislation.
President Obama also faces his presidential opponent Mitt Romney's formidable fundraising abilities. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and a successful businessman, surpassed Obama in May fundraising and was quickly ramping up his fundraising events with wealthy headliners such as Donald Trump.