The state of the union is … ‘divided’ and ‘troubled’

January 28, 2014

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. But what does the public think about the state of the country?

They aren't very optimistic.

Six out of 10 Americans say that "divided" or "troubled" best describes the nation's condition, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another 21 percent went with "deteriorating." You have to wait until the fourth most popular option to find a positive appraisal: Nineteen percent say "recovering." Together, "strong" and "hopeful" only attract 16 percent.

(Image via NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling memo)

This is the backdrop to Obama's address. It's not surprising, then, that Obama is expected to discuss his intention to utilize the power of executive fiat to advance his agenda.

At a time of deep divisions when Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill seem to be a in persistent state of gridlock, it's impossible to please everybody -- despite Obama's best attempts early in his term at forging broad consensus early in his tenure.

So Obama is focused on doing is what is within his power to accomplish the goals he's set out for his administration. Trying to reach a state of broad political accord simply looks like a lost cause in the current climate.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Chris Cillizza · January 28, 2014