CNN poll: More than 6 in 10 SOTU attendees had a positive reaction to Biden's speech

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CNN poll: More than 6 in 10 SOTU attendees had a positive reaction to Biden's speech

Shawn Thiew/Pool/Getty Images

President Joe Biden delivers the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on March 7, 2024.



CNN

6 in 10 Americans have seen President Joe Biden State of the Union address For one, there was a positive reaction to the speech CNN poll powered by SSRSA small 35% behaves very positively.

That pattern of widespread but subdued positivity mirrors the reception to Biden's speeches in previous years. Last year, 72% of viewers responded positively, with 34% saying their reaction was very positive — the lowest “very positive” number in CNN's poll since 1998. In 2022, 71% had a positive reaction, with 41% saying their reaction was very positive.

As in the past two years, Democratic speech audience reactions to Biden were almost universally positive, with about two-thirds of independents giving a positive reaction. Three-quarters of Republicans who watched this year's speech gave a negative review, compared to 6 in 10 for Biden's past two State of the Union addresses.

Americans polled Thursday said, 62% to 38%, that the policies proposed by Biden would move America in the right direction rather than the wrong direction. In a poll conducted before the speech, the same 45% said Biden's policies would move America in the right direction.

Six in 10 Americans who tuned in expressed at least some confidence in Biden to protect American democracy, while 59% say they have at least some confidence in Biden's overall ability to carry out his duties as president. Thirty-six percent of those who watched the speech said they had a lot of confidence in Biden to protect American democracy, 27% said they had some confidence, and 37% said they had no real confidence in him.

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Following the speech, 31% of those who watched said they had a lot of confidence in Biden's ability to fulfill his duties as president, 28% said they had some confidence, and 41% said they had no real confidence. That was a slight improvement from a poll conducted in the days before the speech, which found 25% of the same people were very confident in his ability, 27% were somewhat confident, and 48% were not.

Much of Biden's improvement on this score came among political supporters who watched the speech. Before the speech, 51% of independents expressed at least some confidence in Biden's ability to carry out his duties, and that rose to 68% of the same group of independents after the speech. Opinions about Biden's ability to carry out the duties of the presidency did not change significantly among Democrats or Republicans.

Good scores from speech-watchers are common for presidential speeches to Congress, which usually attract friendly audiences. In CNN speech reaction polls dating back to the Clinton era, audience reactions have always been positive. But State of the Union addresses, especially in recent years, have not led to significant changes in the president's approval rating among the broader American public.

A majority of Americans who watched the address said 56% said Biden's economic policies would move America in the right direction, while 44% said his policies would move things in the wrong direction. That's an improvement from a poll conducted before the speech, when 55% said Biden's economic proposals would move things in the wrong direction. The speech poll was 61% after the speech. However, following last year's State of the Union speech, a 66% majority said Biden's economic policies would move the country in the right direction; By 2022, that number was 62%.

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About half (53%) of Americans who watched the address said Biden's immigration policies would move America in the right direction, up from 42% in a pre-speech survey. Here, the change before the speech included a shift among both Democrats (from 71% to 83% in the right direction) and independents (from 42% to 56%).

According to a CNN poll of speech viewers conducted by SSRS, half of State of the Union viewers at 52% said they were about what Biden's proposed policies should be in support of abortion rights. Another 29% said his policies go too far, and 19% said they don't go far enough.

About half of those watching the speech, 53%, said the level of U.S. support Biden proposed for Israel was about right, 28% said he was proposing too much support, and 20% said not enough. And a similar 49% of those who tuned in said Biden's proposed levels of U.S. aid to Ukraine were about right, 34% said Biden's level of Ukraine aid was too much, and 16% said it wasn't enough.

42% of speech viewers younger than 45 said Biden's proposals were more supportive of Israel, a sentiment shared by just 22% of viewers 45 and older. Biden's proposed aid to Ukraine has a more simplistic age difference.

The CNN poll was conducted via text message with 529 American adults who said they watched the State of the Union on Thursday, and only represents the views of those who watched the speech. Respondents were selected through a survey of members of the SSRS Panel, a nationally representative group recruited using probability-based sampling techniques. Results for the full sample of speech-viewers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.

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