TOMBALL, TEXAS —
Texas is a state that has leaned Republican for the past few decades, and the so-called Lone Star State gave its 38 electoral votes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney in last year's presidential election. As President Barack Obama, a Democrat, prepares for his first State of the Union address since winning re-election, many Texas voters - both Democrats and Republicans - hope to see partisan bickering subside.
Tomball is a little town northwest of Houston known for shops that sell antiques and handicrafts.
One of the largest and most colorful is Granny's Korner.
Owner Mary Harvey says she will listen to the president's speech, but she would like to see the federal government operate more like a business.
“I don't see how anybody can operate without a budget,” she said.
One of her suppliers, Jeffrey Klein, owner of Klein's Fine Foods, wants more bipartisanship in Washington.
“I'd like to see more consensus between the parties instead of this butting of heads," he said. "I would like to see us move forward as a country and not be so divisive.”
Klein employs six people at his Tomball plant making specialty food items.
Although this area is doing better than most others around the country, Klein says not everyone prospers.
“I know people all around Tomball who are unemployed or under-employed," he said. "I think that is one of the things that is missed in statistics - underemployment.”
Furniture maker Tony Bell says the slowdown has affected his sales.
“I am suffering just like everybody else," he said. "We are just trying to make it from day to day.”
He says he does not like to discuss politics, but he will listen to the president.
“Whatever he says is all right by me. Politics, I don't get involved in, you know," Bell said. "I am just a person that, you know, I try to live and let live.”
Bell says he is too busy working to pay attention to politics.