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Biden's SOTU Address This Thursday Comes Amidst Anxiety And Gloom In The Nation

Multiple wars, a porous border, election-year politics, and a lack of confidence in the president make the 2024 SOTU one of Biden's most important speeches.

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

One reason behind the gloom that prevails in the country is Americans’ lack of confidence in Biden’s leadership. The president is often forgetful, mixing names and places. Even Robert Hur, a Special Counsel appointed by his own DOJ, concluded that no charges should be brought against President Biden for mishandling classified documents, citing his well-meaning nature and failing memory.

Simply put, will Biden's SOTU address lift the country out of the prevailing funk, or will it push it even further into the abyss?

In this data-driven article, we objectively examine the issues backed by statistics.

First, as President Biden gives his State of the Union speech this Thursday, what are Americans’ priorities?

These results are from the latest TIPP Poll, which surveyed 1,419 Americans from February 28 to March 1. The credibility interval for the survey is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The poll asked participants, "What are the top three issues facing the country?"

Nearly four in ten (38%) Americans picked the economy as the country's most important issue, followed by immigration/border security at 37 percent and gun violence/gun control at 20 percent as the other top concerns. Interestingly, the importance of immigration increased sharply from 29% in December to 36% in January, and since then, it has remained steady around that level.

Besides these, one in five respondents (18%) rated homelessness as an issue of concern.

Eleven other issues received double-digit scores - crime (17%), health care (16%), trust in government/politicians (15%), and national debt/federal government spending (15%).

Meanwhile, election 2024 (14%), climate change (14%), abortion (13%), home affordability (12%), lack of unity/division (12%), mental health (10%), and terrorism/national security (10%), were seven other issues that received 10 percent or more.

Russia/Ukraine situation and global security (9%), the Israel-Hamas conflict (8%), and racial justice (8%) fell in the 5% to 10% range.

Coronavirus ranked last with 2%, sharing the bottom two positions with China-U.S. relations (5%).

Only 30% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the economy. Official White House Photo

Laken Riley, aged 22, was attending Augusta University College of Nursing when she was killed during her morning jog by an illegal immigrant. The issue of illegal immigration in America is causing havoc in cities and neighborhoods across the country, and President Biden bears sole responsibility for it. Only 20% of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of immigration. Photo: Screenshot

Priorities varied along party and ideological lines. However, Democrats, Republicans, and independents share concerns regarding the economy and immigration.

For Democrats, the top issues are:

33% Gun violence/Gun control
29% Economy
25% Climate change
22% Immigration/Border security
21% Abortion
19% Health care
16% Election 2024
16% Crime
16% Homelessness

For Republicans, the top priorities are:

58% Immigration/Border security
50% Economy
23% National debt/Federal government spending
22% Crime
16% Terrorism/National security
15% Homelessness

Independents’ priorities:

37% Economy
33% Immigration/Border security
23% Homelessness
21% Trust in government/Politicians
16% Home affordability
16% Health care
15% National debt/Federal government spending
15% Gun violence/Gun control

Top Economic Issues

From a list of 21 economy-related issues, the survey respondents picked their top three concerns.

Inflation (47%), food prices (45%), and people’s ability to pay their bills (23%) are the top three economic issues facing Americans.

Gasoline prices (20%), home affordability (20%), government spending (19%), recession (16%), rising interest rates (15%), tax rates (15%), government shutdown (11%), and lack of good jobs (10%) received double-digit responses.

Direction Of Country

Each month, the TIPP Poll probes the general sentiment​ regarding the country’s direction using the survey question, "In general, how satisfied are you with the direction that the country is going in at this time?"

Nearly two-thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with where the country is headed. 37% said they are not at all satisfied, and 27% are not very satisfied. Most Republicans (79%) and independents (70%) expressed dissatisfaction. One-half (52%) of Democrats are satisfied and 45% are dissatisfied.

We also compute a compact index from responses to the question. The index ranges from 0 to 100. A score of 50 or above is positive, below 50 is negative, and 50 is neutral.

Overall, the index entered the negative zone in September 2021 and has remained there for 31 months. The March reading is 35.7.

Democrats have the most optimistic reading, at 52.4. Republicans have the lowest score (22.5), indicating extreme pessimism. Independents are in the middle at 31.2.

Democrats fell 24.9 points from a high of 77.3 in April 2021 to 52.4 this month, a 32% drop.

Republicans' slide began after the elections in November 2020, and they have been posting pessimistic readings (under 50) for 40 months in a row, with a median of 20.5 during Biden's presidency.

Independents’ median during Biden's presidency is 31.2.

The chart below shows our tracking since February 2001. Interestingly, this month’s reading of 35.7 is six points lower than the 23-year average of 41.7.

America’s Standing In The World

While Biden is not doing well on domestic issues, he is also faltering on foreign affairs. The TIPP Standing In The World Index measures how Americans feel about the nation’s standing in the world, a proxy measure of the effectiveness of the president’s foreign policy.

The index ranges from 0 to 100, where scores above 50 are considered positive, scores below 50 are negative, and 50 represents a neutral standpoint.

The overall index has been in the pessimistic region since August 2021. In March, Republicans (26.1) and independents (32.3) are pessimistic. Democrats also posted a pessimistic 48.9.

Biden Job Approval

Bouncing off of his first term low of 33% in December, President Biden's job approval ratings improved to 36% in January. It remained frozen at 36% in February and inched up to 37% in March.

Among Democrats, more than two-thirds (71%) approve of the job he is doing as President. In contrast, most Republicans (86%) and independents (56%) disapprove. While two-thirds (68%) of liberals approve, only 19% of conservatives and a third of moderates (36%) express approval.

TIPP developed the Presidential Leadership Index to facilitate easy tracking, an innovative metric considering favorability, job approval, and Presidential Leadership.

The Presidential Leadership Index is calculated as the average of these three components. Readings above 50.0 signify approval, while readings below 50.0 indicate disapproval.

In March, Democrats are in the positive zone with an index score of 74.2, while independents (34.0) and Republicans (12.7) are in negative territories.

The key topics Biden must address are the economy, immigration, national debt, crime, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the Israel-Gaza conflict.

President Biden does not have a clear vision to end the Russia-Ukraine war. His request for $61 billion aid is stalled in the House. We expect him to make his case directly to Americans.

Being an election year, he will likely offer goodies, especially to the young voters abandoning him in droves. Student loan waivers, summer jobs, and tuition-free education may be in the offing.

Also, we expect him to offer special incentives to union households.

Global gasoline prices will likely rise as Russia stops exports for six months. We expect Biden to announce a further draw down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to stem escalation.

The nation is grappling with entrenched core inflation and increasing layoffs. High food prices and stagnant income have left households in dire straits. Government spending has spiraled out of control, resulting in a national debt exceeding $34 trillion. The debt is increasing by $1 trillion every 100 days. Prominent figures such as Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon are sounding alarms about this debt spiral. Still, their concerns seem to fall on deaf ears among politicians who advocate for more spending.

Here’s a golden opportunity for the President to show that he is in command and deserves the people’s confidence. If the octogenarian fails to meet their expectations, it could further worsen his reelection chances.

Our performance in 2020 for accuracy as rated by Washington Post:

Source: Washington Post
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