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Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign slogan, “change you can believe in” could easily be the metaphor for his short but explosive political career. The question is whether Obama has been able to convert that catchphrase into sweeping change of the federal government. The president’s reelection will likely depend on it.

During his first year in office, Obama saw his approval ratings sink and the loss of the Democrats filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate majority with the triumph of Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts. But in March 2010, the president managed to rally the troops and pass historic health-care reform legislation expanding coverage to 32 million Americans and outlawing certain insurance company practices like refusing to cover those with preexisting conditions. “This is what change looks like,” Obama proclaimed post-vote.

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