Two outlets tracking reactions to Tuesday's State of the Union address show that President Joe Biden's speech was received well by roughly seven in 10 Americans while also moving public opinion in his direction. In fact, both outlets found that Biden's appeal to the country moved the greater public, along with independents and soft partisans in his direction by roughly 20 points or even more.
CNN's poll found that a 72% majority of Americans reacted positively to Biden's address, with the percentage of viewers who said Biden's policies would move the country in the right direction increasing from 52% before the speech to 71% after the speech.
The progressive consortium Navigator Research found even greater movement in a live-reaction dial group gauging how Las Vegas area swing voters and soft partisans responded to the speech in real-time.
Before the speech, just 17% of this presumably persuadable group of voters said the country was "headed in the right direction," but the sentiment got a 38-point bump after the speech to a 55% majority saying things are heading in the right direction.
Biden's favorability rating among the group also got a dramatic nearly 20-point bounce, from 38% pre-speech to 57% post-speech.
Likewise, views of the president's handling of the economy increased roughly 20 points, from 31% approval to 52% approval.
Two topics where President Biden both needed the most improvement with these swingy voters and got it were on questions of whether he's trying to bring people together and if he's up to the job of being president.
In both cases, just 35% of them said pre-speech that Biden sought to bring people together and was up to the job, but he got a post-speech bump of 30 points (65%) on the question of bridge building and 20 points (55%) on the question of being up for the job.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Navigator's group viewed Biden's clever defense of Social Security and Medicare as a high point of the speech. After Biden called on Democrats and Republicans alike to protect the two critical programs, he received a 52-point increase in his handling of the issues, from a -14 confidence level pre-speech (38% confident to 52% not confident) to a net +38 confidence level post-speech (69% confident to 31% confident).
"In a high point for Biden, when he directly stated 'we will not cut Social Security… we will not cut Medicare,' dial ratings hit the 70 to 80 point mark among Democrats, independents, and even Republicans," Navigator writes.
Here are some other Navigator takeaways from the soft partisan and independent swing voters:
- Confidence in Biden's ability to handle the economy made a net 42-point improvement as he listed his accomplishments. "Voters reacted positively when he mentioned taxing the rich, job creation & low unemployment."
- Infrastructure proved to be one of the most popular elements of Biden's address, with net confidence in him improving 38 points. "Dial ratings peaked when Biden referenced replacing lead pipes in 10M homes."
- Health care was already one of Biden's highest-rated issues entering the speech at 48%; but it increased to 58% after the speech. "Voters overwhelmingly reacted positively to the announcement that insulin costs are capped to $35/mo for seniors."
From a polling perspective, it's difficult to find many, if any, downsides to President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address. It was about as good a performance as one could hope for and probably even better than many had hoped for.
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We're chatting with one of our favorite fellow election analysts on this week's episode of The Downballot, Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball. Kyle helped call races last year for CBS and gives us a rare window inside a TV network's election night decision desk, which literally has a big button to call control of the House—that no one got to press. Kyle also dives into his new race ratings for the 2024 Senate map, including why he thinks Joe Manchin's unlikely tight-rope act might finally come to an end.
In their Weekly Hits, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap big developments in two Senate contests: Rep. Adam Schiff's entry into the race to succeed Dianne Feinstein, and the GOP's unexpected show of unity in the open-seat election in Indiana. They also dissect the first poll of this year's hotly contested race for governor in Kentucky and highlight another 2023 battle that shouldn't get overlooked: the race for a vacant seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.