NBC News Poll: State of the Union - Pessimistic
Which means when Obama mounts the podium tonight and looks into the cameras, no one is going to believe him when he says how terrific everything is.
As President Barack Obama enters his sixth year in the White House, 68 percent of Americans say the country is either stagnant or worse off since he took office, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Just 31 percent say the country is better off, and a deep pessimism continues to fuel the public's mood. Most respondents used words like "divided," "troubled," and "deteriorating" to describe the current state of the nation.
On the eve of Tuesday's State of the Union address, more than six-in-10 Americans believe that the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy.
It's not just Obama under fire. A whopping 81 percent disapprove of Congress and twice as many Americans now hold negative views about the Republican Party as positive ones.
Democratic pollster Fred Yang, whose firm conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, compares these findings to the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," in which the protagonist finds himself living the same day over and over.
"It seems like we've been re-living the same basic dynamics -- a public that is anxious, dissatisfied and dismayed -- in a continuous loop," he said.
But Yang adds that Obama's upcoming State of the Union address is his administration's "best chance to try to achieve a reset with a focus on the economy after last year's glitches" with the health care law.
Ahead of the president's Tuesday speech, the NBC/WSJ poll finds 43 percent of adults approving of his job and 51 percent disapproving -- virtually unchanged from a month ago.
Also, for the third-straight survey, those who view Obama negatively (44 percent) outnumber those who view him positively (42 percent).
Whatever the president says about the economy will be an exaggeration. Some may even be shocked when he insists things are getting better.
But I really want to hear what he says about Obamacare. He willd tout the signups - despite the fact that the vast majority of those who have signed up had insurance already. He will talk about how many more people are on Medicaid - despite the fact that most of those who have signed up were eligible already.
What he won't do is warn people that when the business mandates take effect, millions more will lose their insurance. Nor is he likely to warn us about rising premiums next year or anything else that might make people think Obamacare is the failure that it obviously is.
Republicans will have to pick an appropriate point to burst out laughing. Ridicule is the only way to cut through Obama's spin and bring the reality home to the American people.
It will be a difficult show for Democrats who will be forced to give standing ovations to the architect of their probable defeat next November.