Presidential scholars have a term to describe the typical experience of a chief executive who wins re-election to the White House. It’s called the “second-term curse.” There’s evidence for it. Midway through their second terms, George W. Bush suffered Hurricane Katrina and the Iraqi quagmire, Bill Clinton was impeached, Ronald Reagan was staggered by the Iran-contra scandal, and Richard Nixon was run out of town.
At the risk of jinxing our current president with one year left to go, he appears to have broken the curse.
Not everything has been smooth sailing. His party lost the Senate in the 2014 midterms. He failed to pass gun control despite a series of tragic shootings. His immigration executive actions are tied up in court. He has yet to arrest the threat of ISIS or resolve the underlying crisis of the Syrian civil war.
But Obama, unlike all of his second-term predecessors in the last 40 years, has not been knocked off course by scandal. Even if something truly awful happens in his last year, he has already been able to pocket several significant wins that will burnish his legacy.