The State of the Union

Marist National Poll

The State of the Union is Not Strong, Say Many Americans… Partisan Extremism Viewed as Problematic

President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union Address in a little over a week, but Americans already have their own impressions about the state of the nation. More than six in ten residents say the state of the union is not strong. A plurality of Americans also lack confidence in the 118th Congress’ ability to accomplish more than previous legislatures, and about half of Americans consider extremism in both the Democratic and Republican parties to be concerning.

The State of the Union
Would you say the state of the union is very strong, strong, not very strong, or not strong at all?
Source: Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted January 23rd through January 26th, 2023, n=1,257 MOE +/- 3.6 percentage points. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • President Biden has his work cut out for him when he addresses the nation next week. 62% of Americans think the state of the union is not very strong (42%) or not strong at all (21%). Independents (72%) and Republicans (69%) are more likely than Democrats to express concern. But Democrats still divide about the course the nation is on (49% very strong/strong to 48% not very strong/not strong at all).

  • The perception of partisan extremism is a problem for both Democrats and Republicans. A majority of Americans (52%), including 18% of Republicans, think extremism in the Republican party is a major problem and an additional 26% say it is a minor one. Only 21% think it is not a problem at all.

  • A plurality of Americans (46%) also say extremism in the Democratic party is a major problem. This includes 16% of Democrats who share this view. 29% of U.S. residents think extreme viewpoints within the Democratic party are a minor problem, and 23% do not think extremism within the party is a problem at all.

  • Americans are not optimistic the current Congress will be productive. 44% of Americans expect the 118th Congress to accomplish less than legislative sessions in the recent past. 38% say it will accomplish about the same amount, and only 16% believe this Congress will accomplish more than recent legislatures.

  • President Biden’s job approval rating among Americans is 43%, identical to his rating in December 2022. 48% of residents disapprove, and 9% are unsure. While 19% of Americans strongly approve of Biden’s job performance, 36% strongly disapprove.

"If President Biden is looking for an opportunity to alter a mostly static approval rating, the State of the Union, is his next best chance," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. "Biden needs to flip public sentiment about the strength of the union and find middle ground to offset many Americans who view the political parties as extreme."

More than Six in Ten Consider Social Media to be Reckless and Distracting

62% of Americans think communication via social media is reckless and distracting. This is notched up from 59% in January 2021. 29% of residents nationally think social media communication is effective and informative, and 9% are unsure.

Younger generations are more likely than their older counterparts to consider social media to be an effective and informative tool: 41% among Gen Z and Millennials; 28% among Gen X; 17% among Baby Boomers; 18% among the Silent/Greatest generation.