President Barack Obama’s sixth turn at the State of the Union podium sparked a more positive reaction among speech-watchers than last year’s address, according to a CNN/ORC instant poll, with 51% of Tuesday night’s viewers reporting a very positive response to Obama’s speech, up slightly from 44% in 2014.
The spot poll only represents the views of people who watched the speech, which may skew more Democratic than the U.S. population as a whole. The sample of speech-watchers in this poll were 39% Democratic and 20% Republican. Our best estimate of the number of Democrats in the voting-age population as a whole indicates that the sample is about 10-12 points more Democratic than the general public.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, saw positive reactions to his State of the Union addresses decline between his 6th and 7th year. Strongly positive responses to Bush’s speech dropped from 48% in 2006 to 41% in 2007.
Nearly three-quarters of those who watched the speech – 72% – said they thought Obama’s policy proposals would move the country in the right direction, about on par with the 69% who felt his policies would move things in the right way after last year’s speech. Speech-watchers were most positive that Obama’s education proposals were a step in the right direction, though a smaller majority – 60% – thought he was moving the right way on immigration.
Among the 420 speech-watchers surveyed, majorities felt that Obama’s proposals to help low-income and middle-class Americans would be effective, with the share saying they would be “very effective,” rising when compared with the reaction to last year’s speech.
State of the Union viewers tend to be friendly toward the president delivering the speech, but this group also wants to see compromise. About three-quarters – 74 percent – say they think Obama should attempt to reach a bipartisan compromise with Congress on major issues, up from 67% saying so last year.