The year 2012 was a challenging one for President Obama, and not just because of the election fight he had to wage. A flare-up in the Middle East powder keg sent four Americans home in caskets from Libya, including a U.S. ambassador. The long war in Afghanistan showed little progress. A drought seared the Midwest; a superstorm soaked the Northeast. And the national economy continued to sputter, with unemployment hovering around 8% and GDP improving at a paltry rate. Meanwhile, Congress idled in a state of deadlock, unable to agree on new measures to juice the economy. But Obama, 51, remained personally popular, with his approval ratings running higher than his job-performance numbers. And while many Democrats admitted that he had disappointed in reaching their high expectations from 2012, they turned out for the election in robust numbers all the same. The oceans didn't recede and the planet didn't heal, but America was satisfied enough to reward him with four more years in office.
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