With 2024 looming, Biden can’t squander the State of the Union

  • Biden will have his biggest opportunity of the year to speak directly to the American people.
  • His State of the Union address will likely highlight his administration’s victories so far.
  • But the reality, as the polls show, is that Americans are not in the festive mood.

Joe Biden feels it.

The president was almost beaming last week as he twisted “critics and cynics” who doubted his economic plan following a surprisingly strong jobs report.

But when it comes to how Americans feel, recent polls show the nation largely agrees on only three things: America is heading in the wrong direction, the economy remains the biggest problem. more importantly, and few want 2024 to be a rematch of Biden against Trump.

In Gallup’s Mood of the Nation tracking poll, there are only two topics that a majority of Americans view positively: overall quality of life (65% very or somewhat satisfied) and “the opportunity for a progress by working hard” (61% are very or fairly satisfied).

Gallup Poll Showing Low Satisfaction in Many Areas of American Life


Of the 22 problem areas the survey asked about, only four generated a majority satisfaction response:

  • Country military strength and readiness, 64% (up 3 percentage points from 2021).
  • The position of women in the nation, 62% (up two percentage points).
  • Acceptance of gays and lesbians in the country, 55% (down 7 percentage points, one of the biggest drops).
  • The nation’s security against terrorism, 55%, (up 8 percentage points, the largest increase).

Polls consistently show dissatisfaction. A CBS News/YouGov pre-State of the Union poll found that 62% of Americans saying the state of the nation is “divided,” “in decline” and “weak” were the second and third most popular responses. An NBC News poll found that 71% of Americans think the nation is on the wrong track, continuing the longest “sustained pessimism in more than 30 years of polling history”.

CBS asked respondents about Biden in particular and their criticisms of his presidency were, in a nutshell, harsh: 57% of respondents said Biden’s policies had made “inflation worse”, 55% said they had made “gasoline prices” worse, and 53% said they made “the economy” worse.

When compared to nearly every other modern president, Biden’s overall approval rating remains significantly more underwater. According to the FiveThirtyEight tracker, only Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had the worst approval ratings at this point in their respective presidencies. Reagan’s ratings quickly rebounded along with the US economy, he led one of the most dominant re-election campaigns in modern history.

Biden has some real victories to brag about – but he’s running out of time

Tonight, Biden will have the best opportunity of the year to bridge that gap. To be sure, fewer Americans are watching State of the Union addresses than in the past. But for better or worse, the speech remains one of the most-watched live TV events of the year. If this is really the start of his re-election campaign, he can’t afford to let it pass.

Biden has scored some real wins. Unemployment has not been this low since 1969, the year of the moon landing. After months of wrangling, Democrats have pulled off a historic investment in green tech. In a hyperpartisan era, he also signed legislation with bipartisan support, including $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, a major infusion into the US semiconductor industry, the most sweeping changes in gun control for decades and a long-sought expansion for veterans’ health benefits. .

Faced with the midterm curse, Biden has seen his party defy expectations. The Democrats lost the House, which is why McCarthy will be sitting behind him tonight. But the president’s party also widened its majority in the Senate.

Abroad, the president helped lead a coalition that strengthened Ukraine amid Europe’s biggest ground war since the end of World War II.

Split-screen will no doubt be a theme tonight. Presidents are expected to say the state of the union is strong, while the opposition party has a more austere outlook. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave a glimpse of this on Monday night when he spoke of eggs going “from a cheap source of protein to a luxury item” as a way to cut the cost of inflation. (McCarthy is correct that inflation has driven up the prices of staples like eggs, although the cost is starting to come down.)

But basically, the problem remains the same. Although Americans are largely satisfied with their quality of life, they remain pessimistic about the general direction of the country. How Biden bridges the gap will be closely watched tonight.

No malarkey, that will be his best bet for a while.


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