State of the Union

On Eve of Bam's Final SOTU, 65% of Americans Think Country Is Headed in Wrong Direction

President Obama may try to spike the football only to realize he's in his own endzone.


By many accounts, tonight's State of the Union address by Barack Obama will involve spiking the football.

If press reports are correct, he's going to spend a good chunk of time boasting of his presidency's successes and achievements, such as a big drop in the unemployment rate, a housing market turnaround, five-plus years of job growth, and sustained, if meager, economic expansion. Throw in the supposed miracle of universal healthcare coverage, reducing the size of annual federal deficits, record tax revenue, the containment of ISIS, and generally unacknowledged but yuge declines in gun violence and crime generally, and what's left to complain about, right?

If you ask the American people—not just Republicans, but all of us—there's plenty of problems. That's why RealClearPolitics finds that 65 percent of us say the country is on "the wrong track." Just 25 percent say things are headed in the right direction.

Americans aren't ingrates or spoiled children. According to the National Association of Counties (NACO), a whopping 93 percent of U.S. counties have failed to claw back to where they were economically when the recession officially ended. NACO looked at four indicators: total employment, the unemployment rate, size of the economy, and house prices.

Overall, the county economies recovered on all four indicators by 2015 still represent only 7 percent of all county economies. In contrast, almost 16 percent of county economies had not recovered on any indicator by 2015, mostly in the South and Midwest. States such as Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Mississippi have more than a third of their county economies still reeling from the latest downturn across all economic indicators.

Take a look at this map, which charts county performance on the various indicators, with deep blue signaling recovery of all four indicators and pale tan revealing a goose egg (grey means no data were available).


A lot of highly populated areas (southern California, say, or urban parts of Texas) are scoring good results on two or more indicators, but there are huge swaths of the country that are doing pretty piss poor. And when you factor the slow pace of the recovery and a series of international issues, it's not surprising that 65 percent think we're going to hell in a bucket.

The Wall Street Journal's Eric Morath reports:

By the end of last year, more counties had not recovered on any one of the four indicators, 16%, than had recovered on all of them.

"Americans don't live in a single economic place," said Emilia Istrate, [NACO]'s director of research and outreach and one of the study's authors. "It tells you why many Americans don't feel the good economic numbers they see on TV."

And if that's trouble enough, there's this: "The U.S. economy is showing weakness in nearly everything but employment."

So if Obama does spend a lot of time talking up just how great things have gotten during his two terms in the White House, he's going to be mostly talking to himself. Since the middle of 2013, in fact, his disapproval rating has been higher than his approval rating. Unless he turns water into wine or multiplies loaves and fishes, nothing he can say tonight will turn those numbers around any time soon.

NEXT: 5 Quagmires President Obama (Probably) Won't Address in His Last SOTU

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  1. In the president’s defense, when was the last time the country was on the right track?

    1. More importantly, when is the last time that many Americans were right about something?

        1. /psyche!

  2. ‘Unless he turns water into wine …’
    Wait! The president can do that! Why did no one tell me.

    1. You didn’t transmute that.

    2. Oh, c’mon Lord Rollingpin, where have you been? You haven’t seen The Chocolate Jesus shoot rainbows out of his hands?

      1. And who can forget Choco Jesus’s Miracle of the Red Lines?

        1. Indeed. And the time he lowered the seas!

  3. His speechwriter delivered some awesome bon mots on speech writing today. Stuff like, political speeches have a beginning, a middle and and end. And a structure. And a story to tell.

    1. And like a shadow on the forehead, they have….


  4. Yeah, totally the wrong direction. 65%! That’s a sizable majority. This is why Trump makes sense. He’d move us in *a* direction, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be Hillary or Bernie’s direction. What more do you want? That doesn’t sound so bad. Stop pants-shitting. And stop not-pants-shitting about open borders, don’t you know about the rape gangs? Mexicans can’t assimilate, this has been proven over and over. Just look at Germany, look what the Mexicans over there are doing.

    1. Change your screen name already, will you. This is the American internet.

      1. LardoSardo was already taken.



    2. Look, do you want to go in a direction or not? Only Libertarians don’t believe in direction!

      1. Which is why they never win elections! Get with the programa here, se?or.

        1. It’s spelled pogrom.

    3. Don’t be ridiculous, we need more Mexicans (especially really Catholic ones) to cancel out the Muslim Syrian refugees.

  5. Obumbles is a fuckin’ house flipper. He got a heap of junk and slapped a coat of cheap paint on it. The roof and the pipes leak worse and the termites are multiplying.

  6. President Obama may try to spike the football only to realize he’s in his own endzone.

    I’d be surprised if he cares. He doesn’t follow the Constitution; why should he follow the rules of football?

    1. Didn’t someone cleverly point out that the Obama administration accidentally scored an ‘own-goal’ when they inserted a message into some comedy about Obamacare being paid for by “other people”?

      1. There was an episode of Modern Family where Luke was hospitalized after having an allergic reaction, and his 3-year-old cousin Lily was asking about some of the medical equipment.

        Lily: “What does this do?”

        Luke: “I don’t know, but thanks to Obama, you’re paying for it.”

    2. He plays only 4D Vulcan chess, and the 65% figure shows that America doesn’t deserve him.

      1. He plays only 4D Vulcan chess

        He always wants to be the race car.

    3. Some time back, Iowahawk twittered that Obama does an end zone dance when he’s tackled for a safety.

      1. +1 arab spring

      2. Obama/Marshall is running the wrong way!

  7. The U.S. economy is showing weakness in Nearly Everything But Employment (“NEBE”) and even its salutary pace of job formation is plagued by an unusual level of temporary and low wage hiring, painfully low labor force participation and very low levels of nominal wage growth.

    Even the “employment numbers” contain tons of fuzz. The unfettered economic recovery has managed to get more people to cook their own meals and put their own dishes away for free!

    1. That’s because the increases have been in McJobs, not full time, family-supporting jobs.

      1. That won’t last, once the minimum wage hikes kick in. Hello, kiosk screen order-taking!

    2. I am wondering how much more recovery we can stand.

      1. My portfolio still has money in it, so we’re not fully recovered yet.

        1. Are you subscribed to Shriek’s investment newsletter?

          1. I appear to be subscribed to a newsletter that suggests that endless stimulus, perpetual low interest rates and constant Fed meddling in the markets lifts all boats.

            So… yes. I probably am.

    3. The participation rate never recovered so the low unemployment number is as much a function of people loeaving the workforce as it is job creation.

      1. Buttplug tells us that the participation rate doesn’t matter, and my Obot friends are as likely to concede that such a thing exists as to concede that rent-seeking is real.

  8. That’s why RealClearPolitics finds that 65 percent of us say the country is on “the wrong track.”

    I fear that a hefty percentage of that 65% is merely annoyed that their government check isn’t bigger than it already is. Or getting here fast enough, or early enough, or often enough.

  9. On Eve of Bam’s Final SOTU, 65% of Americans Think Country Is Headed in Wrong Direction

    On Eve of Bam’s Final SOTU, 65% of Americans Think Country Is Headed in Wrong Direction are racist.


  10. In 2008 a whopping 81% thought the country was headed in the wrong direction. Are progs just more bull-headed?

  11. Have fun y’all. I am off to take the wife to a goddamn cocktail party of all things. If I don’t fall asleep at said party I will try to post later from my iPad.

    1. Make sure you tell em about the captains and the rocky shores and sails and stuff.

    2. Cosmotarian.

  12. Di anyone else read that first line as ‘Eva Braun?’

  13. Obama has strong negatives on his handling of pretty much every individual issues, and this poll among others are even worse than they were under Bush. Yet Obama’s approval is still in the high 40s. It’s a combination of people thinking he’s cool, people scared of disapproving of him because they’ll be perceived as racist, and the fact that the Democrats are even more blindly partisan than the Republicans, who willfully helped pulled Bush’s approval ratings to the low 30s.

  14. What this article needs is a pic of Obama next to one of Idi Amin.,just saying.

    1. You know who else put a picture…hey?!

    2. Say…. Has anyone ever seen Obama and Idi Amin together?

      I’m just sayin’.

  15. Why can’t Americans be more like Canadians?

    You’d believe the country was on the right track 90% of the time!

    1. We differ from Canadians in that we don’t allow looks to influence our thinking when electing dim-witted leaders.

      1. I’m sure American women didn’t think President Potsie was cute either.

      2. I firmly believe that a large part of Marco Rubio’s rise in FL politics was vapors induced from little old ladies at county GOP women’s meetings. Pool boy fantasies converted into dreams of power.

    2. We also don’t fear the sun.

  16. I really hope Obama spends most of his time bragging on his achievements while in office – speech oughta run about 12 seconds.

    1. Don’t you mean nanoseconds?

      1. Femtoseconds. Go big small or go home…

  17. Another reason to bet on President Trump. All these “wrong direction” people will not see Hillary as a new direction.

  18. Of course whatever economic improvement has happened to take place while Obama’s butt was parked in the Oval office wasn’t caused by anything he did regardless of his attempts to take credit for it.

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  20. That map seems to hint strongly that whatever recovery there has been, it is due to oil and fracking – since they seem to correlate highly on the map.

    This is not good news. If that has been the engine of what little recovery we’ve seen, then the Saudi’s pulling the rug from under the US oil boom should flatten that growth like a pancake.

    1. I welcome the Saudis’ attempt to flood America with foreign oil. “Our” shale isn’t going to disappear while they do, and cheap gas is pretty much all we’ve got going for us right now with the market teetering on the collapse that libertarians have been anticipating ever since politicians passed the buck and doubled down in 2008.

      Serious question for an ambitious young Ph.D. and/or speculative fiction author: What would the US economy have looked like in the Obama Era without the introduction of widespread fracking? I have a hard enough time imagining how bad things would be right now, when I hesitate to buy gas that’s more than $1.80 a gallon, but what if energy costs had been 50+% higher for this whole time?

    2. I would look at, not only the country that has the worlds largest refinery, but the country that has the most refineries. Someone has to distill all of that crude.

  21. I have been thinking. What other dictator believed his country was on track during his last term ?

    1. All of them? No wait, the answer’s Hitler, isn’t it? It’s always Hitler.

  22. 65 percent of us say the country is on “the wrong track.”

    The problem with this is, like a lot of poll questions, is that it’s extremely vague and open to interpretation. A hardcore proggressive/ socialist Bernie Sanders may feel that the country is on the “wrong track” because TEATHUGLIKKKANHADISTS and KKKOCHPORASHUNZ OMGZ!!11!!!!! Meanwhile, a lot of Trump supporters may feel the same way because of illegal immigrants and mooselimbs and “Democratic queers” and shit.

    Point being, it’s a stupid and useless data point. All it means is that a lot of people are pissed off over something.

  23. The 35% who think we *aren’t* heading in the wrong direction just confuse me. Who are these people? Everyone I know, regardless of their personal politics, seems pretty disgruntled with the state of American politics.

  24. The country? Hell, Reason is headed in the wrong direction!

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