The annual power list at Forbes was topped by Obama every year since his election, except one until 2013. Obama is now #2 and Putin claimed the top spot this year. That puts Obama just one spot above China's Communist leader, Xi Jinping.
The full list can be found here. A total of 72 movers and shakers were selected, one for every 100 million in the total global population. The rankings of "The World's Most Powerful People 2013" include several factors, and the US clearly had an advantage over Russia in one measure. The Washington Times reports:
'Forbes’ judges use four criteria to determine the top leaders: How many they govern; how much money they oversee; how many spheres of influence they tout; and how actively they use their powers to influence and change the world, Sky News reported.
Mr. Putin’s population is 142 million, Sky News said. Mr. Obama’s: 314 million."
On the "how many they govern" measure, Obama is the clear winner. It seems that Putin's greater role in global affairs is the cause for the upset, including what many perceived as Russian upper-handedness in the Syrian chemical weapons deal this year. The report itself also cited the government shutdown and NSA leaks - international embarrassments for America during Obama's second term.
There are relevant examples even the report did not mention. The Obamacare crisis has become a humiliating ordeal for the US while the world watches. Many have noted that Obama's intended pivot to Asia is failing as issues at home and in the Middle East take priority. Domestically, the economy is still recovering too slowly for Americans to be happy. Aside from the NSA scandal, the US relationship with its allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia is strained due to a perceived weakness on the part of Obama's foreign policy.
The only other time President Obama was not at the top was in 2010, when he was overtaken by China's Hu Jintao. Obama had since recovered the leading position and maintained it for two years. Forbes believed the decision for the #1 spot in 2013 came down to one question:
"Who’s more powerful: the autocratic leader of a former superpower or the handcuffed commander in chief of the most dominant country in the world?"
Although rating power is highly subjective, it is easy to see - in light of recent events - how many would agree with the final decision.
Bonus: It turns out that Hillary Clinton is connected to almost every single person on "The World's Most Powerful People 2013."
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