Perhaps more important, the polls have shown the public increasingly able to identify where Clinton is trying to lead the country and what he stands for.
The shift has had an impact in Washington as well.
The signature event of Clinton's spring was the sight of Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) celebrating the victory of a Republican-led filibuster that killed Clinton's economic stimulus package--the purpose of which Clinton had never succeeded in explaining to the country.
Seven months later, Congress ended its session with Dole surrendering on his attempt to filibuster gun control--an issue on which Clinton had successfully helped focus public attention.
Another example of the change can be seen by Clinton's health care speech in September, compared to the speech he gave last February to announce his budget plan.
Both speeches used the same overall form--professor Clinton employing a joint session of Congress as a classroom and delivering a lecture that millions of Americans would watch at home.
But the budget speech was larded with sentences detailing specific tax and spending proposals such as: "We propose a permanent investment tax credit for the smallest firms in this country, with revenues of under $5 million." When Congress did the inevitable--changing those details as the budget bills worked their way through the legislative process--each change came to be seen as an Administration defeat.
By contrast, in the health care speech, Clinton carefully avoided reciting the details of his plan--painting in broad strokes and leaving others to fill in the gaps later.
That approach has caused skepticism among some who have complained that Clinton did not provide a sufficiently detailed plan.
But by sticking with general principles, Clinton so far has been able to keep the debate focused on his preferred issues--universal coverage and cost control.
Aides said that much of the difference involves Clinton's growing accustomed to the nature of his job. Governors--the job Clinton held for most of his adult life--spend most of their time dealing with individual programs and proposals. They are "executives" in a way that presidents generally are not.
For Clinton, his aides now are saying, the initial months of the Administration involved considerable difficulty becoming used to the difference between the governorship and the presidency, as well as the particulars of wielding power in Washington.
"He had to get up to speed on huge chunks of knowledge," according to one senior aide. "He had to learn to understand Congress."
At one point after the stimulus package collapsed, Clinton complained to aides that he had been forced into a situation where "I had to turn to other people and ask: 'What will the Senate do?' And they were wrong." Clinton spent much of the next couple of months trying to learn enough about Congress so that he would not repeat that experience.
"A large part of why he didn't use the bully pulpit (in the spring) was that his mind was somewhere else," the senior aide said. "He was using his public forum to speak to David (L.) Boren, not America, because his head was focused on David Boren," the aide added, referring to the Oklahoma Democratic senator whose defection from the Administration's side helped kill the stimulus plan.
Now, the aide suggested, Clinton has a better understanding of his role. "He gets it now."