News / USA

Obama Expected to Use State of Union to Boost Political Fortunes

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration at the White House in Washington, Jan. 22, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration at the White House in Washington, Jan. 22, 2014.
— President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday before a joint session of Congress with millions of Americans watching on television. This year’s speech offers the president an opportunity to boost his sagging political fortunes.

The year 2013 took a political toll on Obama. The difficult rollout of his signature achievement, the health care reform law, was a major factor in sending his public approval to new lows.

Recent public opinion polls show the president’s job approval rating hovering around 40 percent, a weak number for an incumbent president.

The latest national poll from Quinnipiac University found 40 percent of those surveyed approve of the job Obama is doing, compared to 54 percent who disapprove.

Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy says the president gets negative ratings on several key issues.

“The president remains in negative territory now on the economy, the federal budget as well as foreign policy," Malloy said. "Registered voters in big numbers still give the president a ‘thumbs down’ on health care.”

Obama is expected to focus on economic issues in his State of the Union address. Amid signs the U.S. economy is starting to pick up, the president will likely emphasize the need to make economic opportunity available to all Americans.

The administration intends to focus on the issue of income inequality in the United States leading up to the November congressional midterm elections.

A recent congressional study found the wealthiest 1 percent of the population increased its income by 275 percent over the last 30 years. At the time, income levels for the 60 percent of Americans in the middle class rose by just under 40 percent.

The Brookings Institution's Thomas Mann says Democrats hope focusing on the economy in general, and economic fairness in particular, will help their candidates in November.

“How is the economy doing? And that is both jobs and growth and wages," Mann said. "But behind that is the economic inequality and the ‘two America’s’ issue.”

Opposition Republicans say the economy and creating jobs are priorities for them as well in 2014.  But they are also determined to keep the spotlight on problems associated with the health care law, even though they acknowledge some earlier problems are being corrected.

Democrats hope that the fixes to the law are firmly established before the midterm elections.  But analyst Stuart Rothenberg expects many Republican candidates to continue to focus attacks on the Affordable Care Act as a key part of their election strategy.

“I am skeptical it will be an asset by the time the midterms roll around," Rothenberg said. "It might be an asset in five years or 10 years, but not between now and the midterms.”

The State of the Union offers the president his best chance to lay out an election year political agenda that includes domestic and foreign policy goals.

Analysts say foreign policy challenges for the president could also have an impact on this year’s elections, including efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear program as well as the continuing terrorist threat posed by al Qaida and other groups around the world.

Historically, the president’s party loses seats in midterm elections during a second presidential term. Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman told VOA's Encounter program that the voting coalition of young, minority and women voters that twice helped to elect Obama is less likely to turn out in congressional election years.

“And if their proportions go way down, then the electorate could be two to three points more Republican than it was two years ago without any opinion having actually changed, and that is a real harmful prospect for Democrats across the board,” Wasserman said.

Most analysts favor Republicans to maintain or even increase their margin of control in the House of Representatives.

The real battle will be for control of the Senate. Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, but many of the 35 Senate races this year take place in states where Republicans have an advantage.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Great North (Canada)
January 22, 2014 10:16 PM
The issue of the implementation of the affordable care act, over time will demonstrate great improvements, and it will serve the people of the USA, as many other social betterment acts have, well. The principle of every human being having access to preventive and corrective healthcare, needs to be enshrined as a basic human right; it was a principled vision by the President, and as any other visionary move, throughout history, there will be those that do not back it, but the majority will look back and see it was the right vision. Countries far less well off than the USA, have provided such a backbone program for their people. More needs to be done to address healthcare inefficiencies, waste, and even some malversation of such programs throughout the industriallized world, but not in one country, that has universal healthcare, is the population willing to give it up. The affordable care act, will become a success for all, it just needs to mature, I hope it does so rapidly.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid