It’s only been about 12 hours since the State of the Union address wrapped up, so it’s too early to get a complete picture of how it resonated with the public. For that matter, not everyone watches these speeches — and those who do are likely more inclined to agree with what President Obama has to say.
That said, there are some early reports pointing to positive public reactions to the speech.
Participants in a Hart Research focus group in Columbus, Ohio, for example, seemed very impressed with what they saw.
Based on our dial session with 28 voters in Columbus, Ohio, President Obama’s State of the Union speech was an exceptionally strong performance, leaving viewers with a clear impression of him as a strong leader who cares about the middle class and offers good ideas and solutions for America’s future. Voters’ positive reception of the speech’s core themes suggests that they will serve as a solid foundation for the President in the months ahead, in framing both his policy agenda and the case for his reelection.
There was also a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner focus group in Denver for Democracy Corps, which found voters who “overwhelmingly liked what they heard” last night.
Dial testing and follow-up focus groups with 50 swing voters in Denver, Colorado show that President Obama’s populist defense of the middle class and their priorities in his State of the Union scored with voters. The President generated strong responses on energy, education and foreign policy, but most important, he made impressive gains on a range of economic measures. These swing voters, even the Republicans, responded enthusiastically to his call for a “Buffet Rule” that would require the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. As one participant put it, “I agree with his tax reform – the 1 percent should shoulder more of the burden than the other 99 percent. He [Obama] talked about being all for one, one for all – that really resonated for me.” These dial focus groups make it very clear that defending further tax cuts for those at the top of the economic spectrum puts Republicans in Congress and on the Presidential campaign trail well outside of the American mainstream.
Of course, all of the usual caveats certainly apply. Immediate reaction can shift, and there’s little evidence to suggest positive public reactions lead to lasting changes to voters’ attitudes.
Still, the White House will likely be pleased with the positive early reactions — they’re far better than the alternative — and with a message that resonates, the president and his team will no doubt try to build on this moving forward.
Update: This report initially cited a CBS News poll, which had been sent in by a reader. It turns out, that poll was taken after last year’s State of the Union, so I’ve removed the out-of-date information and edited the text accordingly.