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.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora