Barack Obama
Barack Obama delivers State of the Union Speech

President Barack Obama will effectively launch his re-election campaign when he delivers the State of the Union to Congress.

The annual speech is the U.S. version of the Queen's Speech and is, unlike the UK's parliamentary version, watched by millions. It is held during prime time television hours across all major U.S. networks.

But this year carries the extra yardage of being an election year, and is the final time Obama will get to convince the public with a Congress audience he is still the man to lead the country through four more years.

Unsurprisingly, his speech will focus on the domestic issues that are facing Americans including unemployment, taxes and housing.

What will follow is nine months of speeches that will all be entailed towards the election on 6 November where he will fight his Republican opponent for the White House.

Indeed, the Congressional Republicans have themselves already had a successful time of it, ensuring Obama's policies have either not been legislated or are at least a very watered down a long way from the original version.

ObamaCare was long and painful with endless amendments being passed back to and from the White House and Capitol Hill. In the end, Obama had to give up half of it, forcing out the government-backed health insurance which was as close to the NHS that has previously existed in the U.S. Instead, what existed was a version of RomneyCare, ironically the a man he could face come the Autumn election.

There were endless meetings held all night between the leading Republicans and Obama debating over concessions in tax over raising the debt level.

There was criticism too over his financial appointments following the 2008 financial crash and then over the Dodd-Frank, the new financial regulatory legislation, that was said to be too weak.

Nevertheless, Obama is bouncing after recent employment figures suggest he is turning around the economy and the speech tonight, if it can be delivered to the right note, might see him climb away from the low poll ratings.

Obama is expected to push tax breaks for bringing manufacturing jobs home from overseas, ideas to help the troubled home-mortgage market and incentives for alternative energy development, people familiar with the speech say.

He is also likely to call again for higher taxes on the wealthy - despite consistent Republican opposition - and speak of further pressure on China over its currency and trade practices.