Promise: As a candidate, Obama said he would refocus military operations in Afghanistan to hunt down al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and gradually draw down combat operations.
Status: Partially achieved. Bin Laden was captured and killed in May 2011, and Afghan forces are scheduled to begin securing the country by this spring, several months ahead of schedule.
Promise: Obama vowed during his 2008 campaign to end combat operations by the summer of 2010.
Status: Achieved. U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011. Since the drawdown, violence and political instability persist in Iraq.
3. Climate change:
Promise: Obama vowed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in energy-saving technologies.
Status: Incomplete. The Environmental Protection Agency crafted carbon regulations that make it more difficult to build new coal plants. The administration tightened fuel-economy standards and provided about $90 billion for clean-energy technologies. “We haven’t done as much as we need to” on climate change, Obama said recently.
4. Health-care overhaul:
P romise: Obama vowed during his campaign to enact universal health-care coverage within six years.
Status: Partially achieved. The issue dominated Obama's first term and, after a sharply partisan debate, Congress approved sweeping changes that expanded overage to about 30 million people and attempted to control spiraling costs. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law last June.
5. Guantanamo Bay:
Promise: Obama said he would close the terrorist prison during his first year in office.
Status: Failed. Obama signed an executive order in January 2009 calling for the prison to close within a year. When the deadline passed, he launched plans to keep terrorism detainees at an Illinois prison. But Congress strongly opposes those efforts, and about 160 detainees still remain at the prison.
6. The economy:
Promise: The economic collapse in late 2008 prompted Obama at the start of his term to push for an economic stimulus program that aides said would keep the unemployment rate just below 8 percent.
Status: Failed. After passage of the stimulus program, the unemployment rate climbed as high as 10 percent in October 2009 and fell to 7.9 percent by October 2012 and remains below 8 percent now.
7. Transparency/government openness:
Promise: Obama vowed to make his administration the most transparent in U.S. history.
Status: Partially achieved. On day one, Obama ordered federal agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor” of public information requests, but critics say most agencies haven’t updated their disclosure rules. The White House now regularly releases visitor logs, and Obama has signed a law enacting some whistleblower protections, but the Justice Department continues to prosecute federal employees who are considered whistleblowers. The Food and Drug Administration has also come under fire for using electronic surveillance to spy on the personal e-mail accounts of whistleblowers.
8. Making government “cool again”:
Promise: Obama vowed to modernize government operations and recruit new, talented workers to bolster the aging public sector.
Status: Incomplete. The federal workforce isn’t getting any younger and remains mired in a years-long pay freeze at the same time it continues to be the target of further Republican cost-cutting plans. Critics say Obama spends little time discussing the merits of public service or using his bully pulpit to make a recruitment pitch to young job seekers.
9. United States’ standing in the world:
Promise: Obama said his election would improve global perceptions of the United States.
Status: Partially achieved. His election as the first black president instantly earned him worldwide acclaim — including the Nobel Peace Prize after less than a year in office — and international polls show that he remains a popular figure. But the country’s standing continues to wobble as U.S. foreign policy is challenged by young unstable democracies in the Middle East, violence in Syria, the potential nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, and strained relations with the leaders of Israel and Russia.
10. Financial overhaul:
Promise: In response to the 2008 economic collapse, Obama pushed to give broad new powers to federal watchdogs to protect borrowers against abuses in mortgage, credit-card and other types of lending.
Status: Partially achieved. Changes approved in 2010 granted new federal authority to seize and wind down large, troubled financial firms and a council of federal regulators to monitor threats to the financial system. Republicans consider the changes intrusive and detrimental to innovation and competitiveness.
11. Breaking the partisan logjam:
Promise: Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan of “hope and change” directly addressed voter concerns with partisan bickering in Washington — fights he vowed to end.
Status: Failed. Even Obama admitted last year that his biggest first-term disappointment “is that we haven’t changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked.” Fights over health-care changes, financial regulatory changes and the nation’s fiscal policy sapped any chance of a modern era of good feelings.
12. Supreme Court appointments:
Promise: Obama was vague during his 2008 campaign about the types of justices he hoped to appoint to the court but signaled plans to nominate a diverse array of Americans to serve in government.
Status: Achieved. Obama nominated the high court’s first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in 2009 and tapped his former solicitor general, Elena Kagan, for a seat in 2010, giving the Supreme Court three women for the first time.