Observers say he has had ample time to reinvent himself, and the successes against the Taliban in Swat would have been a good place to start. Pakistani troops have reasserted their authority over much of the Swat Valley and drove Taliban insurgents out of Swat's cities and towns.
But Zardari has done little to convince the public that the fight against the Taliban is his war, analysts say. Consequently, Pakistanis credit the country's military commanders.
"How many times has he been to Swat? None," said Pakistani security analyst Ikram Sehgal. "If he really wanted to make his mark, he'd have a bigger public presence. The success of Swat is happening under his presidency. Why not build on that?"
Pakistanis don't blame Zardari for the country's economic woes or its electricity crisis, a problem of overburdened, poorly maintained infrastructure that led to violent protests this summer. For years, Musharraf put off expanding the capacity of the national power grid. And Pakistan was hit as hard by the global economic meltdown as other countries.
But Pakistanis do hold Zardari accountable for not doing enough to put the country's economy on the right track or to avert the daily power shutdowns that plagued the country while it baked in withering summer heat.
"It was an enormous mess that we inherited from Musharraf," said Almeida. "And much of it is not understood by people here. But people understand not having electricity, and they understand high gasoline taxes and food shortages. Those are the kinds of issues that decide whether a leader's popularity goes up or down."