The Intersection: Jan 2014

Welcome to The Intersection, a series designed to help you anticipate and prepare for public policy challenges and opportunities.

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State of the Union Intersection

The President’s State of the Union Speech was noteworthy for two reasons: one of his doing and the other because of the American people.

For his part, the President set out a clear path of muscular executive authority for the balance of his term.  While distancing himself from an unpopular Congress, the President and his White House team know that executive authority has real limitations and that they can’t govern alone.  To this end the President called out, by name, six American companies:  General Motors, Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, Verizon and Costco.

This is a meaningful and significant olive branch from this White House to “big business” and may also be very smart politics.  For its part, business wants tax reform, economic predictability and access to new markets.  On the political front, The President and business share mutual caution about the Tea Party, and the business community has already demonstrated its desire to elect more moderate Republicans.  The President may be trying to wedge himself between business and its traditional ally, the Republican Party, while developing partners in his end-around Congress.

As for the American people, they voted with their remote controls.  The viewership for the SOTU was the lowest of Obama’s Presidency.

The networks reported just over 33.2 million viewers. For context, more than 52.3 million viewers watched President Obama deliver the State of the Union in 2009.

The November elections are nine months away, and it is not too early for both parties to be thinking about the enthusiasm gap between their political bases and independents.  This low viewership is tough news for the Democrats.  On the other hand, the buffet style Republican response to the SOTU speaks to the Republicans’ ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

This edition of the Intersection is a review of this week’s speech–from the Democrat and Republican perspectives–as well an analysis of what we can expect to happen in the year ahead.


Robert Hoopes
President, VOX Global

Robert Hoopes


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