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Posted on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

State of the Union: Do you agree with Obama's priorities?

By Wayne Baker

0217 State of the Union Word Cloud.jpg

Detail from the 2013 State of the Union Word Cloud. President Obama stressed pocketbook issues, as he did in 2012. Click here to see the entire cloud.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing the State of the Union.

Obama outlined dozens of proposals in his State of the Union address. Do his priorities match yours? Do they match the priorities of most Americans?

To start the week, I asked you what you would like to see in Obama’s State of the Union address, offering my preference that he emphasize the values that unite us. Tuesday, we asked if the address would be historic, and examined a few past addresses that were. The day after the address, we noted the emotional climax of his address — gun control. And, we discussed Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage. Today, we compare the president’s priorities with our own.

What are Americans worried about? Gallup routinely surveys Americans to elicit views of the “most important problem” the nation faces. In a survey a few days before the speech, the top two problems were “the economy in general” and “unemployment/jobs.”

The next four problems, in order, were unhappiness with the government and its leaders, the federal budget and deficit, healthcare issues, and guns and gun control.

How does this compare with Obama’s priorities in the State of the Union? Gallup analysts scoured his remarks, identifying 27 specific issues, each of which received at least one paragraph in the address. The percentage of the speech that pertained to an issue gives a rough estimate of where it ranks in the president’s priorities.

Obama devoted more words to economic issues than any other topic. About a quarter of Obama’s address covered these issues. This makes the president’s top concern the same as Americans’ top concern: the economy.

But priorities diverge in other areas. The Gallup analysis shows, however, that Obama gives more priority to education, energy, terrorism, and world affairs than the general public does. And, he gives less priority to healthcare, the budget, and issues with government.

Obama’s and Americans’ priorities match when it comes to gun control, military matters, and taxes.

Do you agree or disagree with Obama's priorities for the nation?

What do you think is the most important problem we face as a nation today?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

There is no reason anybody needs to own a gun. This is 2013. We should be able to solve our conflicts and defend ourselves with peace, love and understanding, not bullets. Also, the government is not doing nearly enough to help the economy. We should make the minimum wage $30/hour, then we'll all be rich! And then we should make the maximum wage $100/hour so nobody gets too rich.Rich people have too much money that they don't need and they don't create enough demand to drive our economy. Investment doesn't drive our economy, demand does, and we get more demand when more people have money to spend, and the 'less fortunate' are more likely to do their patriotic duty and spend all of their money to power our economy and create jobs, whereas the rich will just buy houses and yachts and private jets and then since they're so greedy and want even more money they just go back and invest in corporations to make more money and pay only 13% in taxes. If we ask the 1% just to give a little bit more we can spend that money to help the poor and create jobs and make everybody equal. Obama understands this but those Teapublicans and the Koch brothers are just spending millions of dollars to buy ballot machines and steal elections so they can hang on to enough seats in Congress to stop the Democrats from doing what's right for our country.