Stan Greenberg: Polling Adviser, Co-Founder Democracy Corps

The agenda is set. President Obama gave his State of the Union address this week, and he was clear: He wants a year of action, and he’ll go it alone if Congress won’t go with him.

But with Midterm Elections driving the political calendar and 2016 coming on fast – did the President lay groundwork for Democrats to succeed or openings for Republicans to attack? How will the substance – the ideas and goals – resonate with American voters? And for a President who’s been struggling in the polls, has he offered a plan that might turn things around?

Few understand the art and the science of polling more than Stan Greenberg: Polling adviser to President Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Nelson Mandela, among many others; CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Co-Founder Democracy Corps.

Listen here at Political Wire.

The Making of the State of the Union Address

We spoke with speechwriters for the last three presidents — Jon Favreau, David Frum and Michael Waldman — about what it takes to put together the president’s biggest speech of the year.

They gave us some amazing insights. Listen here at Political Wire.

Jon Favreau: Former Director of Speechwriting for President Obama

The connection between policy and communication is a close one. Get only the policy right, and you’re a wonk. Focus solely on the communication, and you risk being seen as just another political sweet-talker.

For the Obama administration – from health care to the economy to dealing with wars around the world – there’s been a continual need to score high on both fronts. So how to strike the right balance?

One expert on the topic – Jon Favreau, Former director of Speechwriting for President Obama, now a Principal at Fenway Strategies and columnist for The Daily Beast.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Mike Murphy: Political Media Consultant

The challenges for Republicans keep piling up. First it was the Great Divide, the battle between the Tea Party wing and so-called Establishment. Now, NJ Gov. Chris Christie – Fort Lee and Bridgegate, along with Hoboken and Hurricane Sandy Funds. And on Friday, the release of a new – more human – documentary on Mitt Romney – a film that is already raising questions of what type of Presidential candidate Republicans should nominate and how they should run their campaigns.

With 2014 Midterms and a possible Senate takeover on the horizon – and the 2016 Presidential campaign on the mind – can Republicans get their act together? And if so, what’s their best path forward?

To help provide answers, renowned Republican media strategist Mike Murphy. He has handled media and strategy for more than 26 successful Gubernatorial and Senatorial campaigns; he helped run John McCain’s Presidential race in 2000; and today, he’s a partner at Revolution Agency in Washington D.C. and when you’re not following him on Twitter, you can read him in Time and see him on Meet the Press.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Steve Kornacki: MSNBC Host

New Jersey Bridgegate is not slowing down. Questions around how and why several George Washington Bridge access lanes were shut last September – questions around what Governor Chris Christie knew and when he knew it – are not only growing, but now they’ve gone viral.

Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, Bruce Springsteen and a devastating “Born to Run” update, the scandal has jumped from political fiasco to pop culture touchstone. And like those cars in Fort Lee, the issues pile up: Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Why was this done? And why did no one have the brains or courage to stop it?

If you want answers, few people have covered this story more closely – and few know more about New Jersey politics – than Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Chuck Todd: NBC News Political Director & Chief White House Correspondent

It took less than 10 days for our first big political scandal of the year to hit: Chris Christie’s revenge. Bridgegate.

Whatever you call it, as we try to understand what happened – and as the New Jersey State Legislature and U.S. Attorney’s Office do the same – questions about Gov. Christie’s temperament and management ability. Is he fit – emotionally and skillfully – to run our country? What does this mean for the Republican party and, of course, the 2016 Presidential race.

And then there’s Congress. With midterm elections on the horizon, another key member announces retirement. How might this affect the campaigns and the ultimate balance?

Joining me to discuss New Jersey, Washington and beyond: Chuck Todd, NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director, as well as Host of “The Daily Rundown” on MSNBC.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Joe Trippi: Political Strategist & Media Consultant

The holidays are over and politics is back. After what was a relatively quiet two weeks – President Obama didn’t even have to leave Hawaii this year – Washington and our other political centers are back to life.

And as we begin the 2014 Midterm season – and with a State of the Union address on the way – some analysis on where we stand? And for this conversation, more specifically, where does the Democratic Party stand?

One major issue: Inequality. Unemployment benefits, minimum wage and new efforts to address a growing financial gap in our country. And of course another issue: Obamacare. Now that it’s in full action, how will it work as policy and politics?

Few spend more time thinking about Democratic chances – or helping mold public opinion – than Joe Trippi. Political Strategist & Media Consultant who has run or helped run campaigns for President, governor and more; Founder and President of Trippi and Associates; and author of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

David Frum: Writer, Commentator, Former U.S. Presidential Special Assistant

As both parties kick off the 2014 political season – and Midterm primaries and Elections creep closer on the calendar – both parties face questions. For Democrats: How to defend and, if they can, advance Obamacare, minimum wage and other initiatives. For Republicans, the big question also seems to be a basic one: Can’t they all just get along?

The forced government shutdown, various election battles, competing strategies around health care and more have left party members and party watchers wondering what comes next. Many ask how the gap created between the Tea Party wing and the so-called Established branch will affect Republicans’ ability to drive policy and win campaigns.

One person who spends time considering the policy and the politics: David Frum, contributing editor at The Daily Beast, CNN contributor, former special assistant and speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and author of several books, including most-recently “Why Romney Lost (And What The GOP Can Do About It).”

Listen here at Political Wire.