February 25th, 2009
09:15 AM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Obama's speech scored with viewers

Two-thirds of those who watched the President's speech reacted favorably, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted after the speech Tuesday night.

Two-thirds of those who watched the President's speech reacted favorably, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted after the speech Tuesday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that two-thirds of those who watched President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress reacted favorably to his speech.

Sixty-eight percent of speech-watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey Tuesday night had a very positive reaction to the president's address, with 24 percent suggesting they had a somewhat positive response and 8 percent indicating they had a negative reaction.

Since the president is a Democrat, the audience watching his speech is a bit out of line with the nation's breakdown by party. The speech audience questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll is about 8 to 10 points more Democratic than the general public.

Eighty-five percent of those polled said the president's speech made them feel more optimistic about the direction the country is headed in the next few years, with 11 percent indicating the speech made the feel more pessimistic.

Eighty-two percent of speech watchers say they support the economic plan Obama outlined in his prime-time address, with 17 percent opposing the proposals.

"These are great numbers for Obama, but they are no better or worse that Bill Clinton or George W. Bush got after their first speeches to Congress," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

For example, 82 percent said they support the proposals Obama outlined in his speech tonight. After Bill Clinton's first address to Congress in February, 1993, 79 percent of speech-watchers supported his policies. And George W. Bush got virtually the same amount of support for his proposals after his first speech eight years ago.

"That may mean that speech-watchers were rallying around the new president as much as they were rallying around his proposals," says Holland. "That may strike a cautionary note for the Obama White House, since Clinton's proposals in 1993 were initially well-received but quickly ran into trouble with Congress and the American public."

A big question is whether the address, which was watched by millions across the country, changed any minds.

"Among speech-watchers, the number who thought Obama's policies will move the country in the right direction grew by 17 points after they listened to Tuesday's address," says Holland.

Eight out of ten said the president's plans will succeed in improving the economy, and 68 percent feel his proposals will work in reducing the federal deficit.

Three out of four questioned say that Obama's plan will succeed in improving health care, and 82 percent feel that his proposals will create or save jobs across the country.

The survey included 484 speech-watchers questioned by telephone minutes after the president finished his address. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

(Updated Tuesday, 11:30 p.m.)

Filed under: CNN poll • Obama address • President Obama
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. L for Legend

    President Obama's address to the nation was elegant, as usual. America should be even more energized and ready to move forward with a new agenda. The repugs who refused to stand and/or applaud for change and a new direction for this country looked really st_p_d before the entire nation. That school he referenced in SC is in bad condition, I know, I taught in that district a few years ago. All things are possible when we believe. Poor Gov. Jindal was put out there as a sacrificial lamb.

    February 25, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Adrian Veidt

    It was a good speech. Substantive and direct, which is what the times call for.

    February 25, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. please

    Joan – I agree about Gov. Jindal – he sounded like a high school senior who won drawing straws to speak after Obama. There are worlds apart.

    Part of me feels bad for the repubs, but then my rational side kicks in and I just smile.

    February 25, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Ellie

    I found President Obama's speech to be very, very good. He spoke about the issues facing our country and DID NOT sugar coat it for the American people. The fact that President Obama made it very clear his focus is on RENEWED ENERGY, EDUCATION and HEALTHCARE, was very important to ALL Americans facing hardship in this country.

    This is the FIRST time I listened to a President address Congress because in the past, you could tell that former President's were just mouthing the words, but lack any sincerity or clarity with regards to their own speech.

    President Obama told each and every one of us that it will take EVERYONE working together towards rebuilding our country and digging ourselves out of this economic hell hole. It does NOT matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent. We are in the SAME BOAT, so we need to decide whether we are going to SAIL towards the future or SINK back into yester-years!!!!

    I truly commend President Obama. He has inherited a big pile of poop left by the Republicans and NOW must clean up their incompetence and negligence. This is NOT an easy feat, it takes a LOT of cuts in wasted spending and non-working programs. I hope ALL Republicans will STEP UP and HELP fix the mess they created and stop the same old blame game and divisive theatrics. We don't have time for those juvenile politics.

    As for Governor Jindal's speech, it was very painful. It was as if, Jindal was talking to a bunch of toddlers. It was very sloooooow and every predictable coming from a scripted Jindal who look like he was in pain the entire time he was talking. He DID NOT sound very convincing, nor did he address the GOP's accountability nor provide any solutions to the issues facing millions of Americans. It was more blah, blah, blah, blah....... same old broken record.

    February 25, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. AJ

    I thought his speech was pretty worthless. We already know he can make a gret speech and is vastly more intelligent than the last guy who occupied the White House, but when is he going to give us specifics?

    February 25, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. Karen Lomax

    It does help to remember what world we’re living in… but, on the other hand….

    When I saw that small dark face last night, sitting in the House of Representatives, next to the First Lady of The United States….

    I cried… again. There’s nothing new about children writing to presidents about saving their school and all kinds of other stuff, but that small dark face sitting next to the most powerful of women; that little invisible black girl from nowhere – I am almost 56 years old and I cannot even put into words how affirming it was to see her there, next to the most graceful (first of ) First Ladies, in a way that never before existed for me.

    Obama’s most unique gift is his ability to give a very public face to all of those faceless people who love this country just as much as those whose faces we always see; people who have loved this country in spite of its institutionalized hatred for them. It’s a huge burden finally being set down; at least that is how it feels for me. Most of my life has been lived on this promise rather than my reality; the promise given to me by my family and to my children by me – that they are no better or worse and just as deserving as anyone.

    So many are still, quite subconsciously, in that place where some people are better than others; some should rule and others serve. I do believe that that world, finally, is dying.

    Thank You God.

    February 25, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. obama2012/4moreyears

    I understand the criticism for lack of specifics in solving our economic crisis. However, based on the public's reckless spending and the banks reckless lending practices, I believe that most people would not understand the complexities of much of the stimulus package.
    That being said, I think it is refreshing to hear a president speak with such clarity of purpose, willingness to lay out what is in front of us and with enormous optimism in our ability to recover with the backing of a government that believes "yes we can"
    I know this drives the republicans crazy because they have no one who speaks like President Obama.

    February 25, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. KFR

    Obama bashing as usual, not willing to give this president a chance. You must be one of those of who health care, At a very young age I had a heart (massive) and open heart surgery. Thank God for health care, now my grandchildren can have me around to enjoy. Quit bashing Obama YOU DO NOT KNOW IF HE IS TOAST YET.

    February 25, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  9. still hoping

    3 years, 11 months and counting......

    February 25, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Independent Mike

    I had no doubt that it would be a good speech. Obama always gives a good speech. But in the end, even great speeches mean nothing if common sense action isn't taken, (and that means congress too). I sincerely hope he's got more than a good speech. I give him an "A" on the speech.

    February 25, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. Phil

    President Obama was great last night, he demonstrated true leadership and confidence. On the other hand, what was that performance of Jindal? He was aweful. Rush, and the rest of the GOP followers, is this your star pupil for our country? You've got to be kidding us...

    February 25, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. sensible Cape Coral L

    I have always been proud of my country but never more so than last night. I really love that man!!!

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. Lucy in Chicago

    As a Professor of Speech Communication it would be impossible to give specifics in a 52 minute speech. After all it takes me all semester to give specifics. Give the man a break. At least he can put together a complete sentence.

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. nm mom

    He is amazing. It is so nice to have an intellectual in charge and someone who actually cares about the American people more than corporations and the richest of this country, unlike the Republicans, who well sell us all under the bus for the money they and their friends and family make with these corporations. The Republicans always want to say something negative, yet they do nothing for people and have no solid ideas to put forward to save our economy. They think that we are stupid and that our memory is so short that we have already forgotten the mess that they put us in. The sad thing is that they used God to minipulate so many Americans, and so many of them are so Godless.

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. bill from pa

    I love the detractors claiming how irresponsible his stimulus is. If I'm not mistaken under Republican control our national debt went from 2 trillion to 8 trillion. Hmmm, I guess that's not irresponsible.

    Our country's infrastructure is worn out. It needs replacing and updating but the Repubs scream about this.

    I guess to satisfy them we need to be building roads and schools in Baghdad.

    Enough is enough already. It's time to put OUR COUNTRY first.

    February 25, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. REF

    this plan will do nothing but break the economic back of america great plan promise the moon and have the producers and job creators of this country pay the bill and pretend that it wont affect their desire to invest with out reward. grow up there is no free lunch taxl the people who actually do the hiring and your precious big govt will only be able to print worthless money cause we will not work to support this corrupt govt anymore its time to grab the pitchforks and march ****taxation with out reprensentation was good in the 1700s and its good today

    February 25, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Ray Fisher

    The number of people in Congress playing with their Twitter gadgets during the President's speech epitomizes the plight of our nation, too many toys and too much playing. I find it disrespectful to our President to have people Twittering while he is speaking much less it is counterproductive in the business setting. As a former manager, I found Palms, Ipods, Blackberries, etc... to be more distracting than productive so it's no wonder our economy has collapsed with all these toys. Gadgets can be very useful if used responsibly yet how many truly responsible people have we in America??? Can we use the credit crisis as a gauge??? Failure to pay bills does not a responsible person make!!!

    February 25, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. paulieshere2

    Ridiculous! Its not the people who caused the problems! Its big banks and he is going to give them MORE money even more than the $787 billion! He says banks need to loan money??? Loaning money to people who cant afford it is how the economy got broken in the first place. How much money did he alot for unemployment a measly $120 billion (out of $787 billion) and we are on the brink of the 2nd great depression and the biggest loss of in the history of the USA. He isnt taxing big companies who shipped our jobs to China and India! So why would private sector companies hire americans who want $18-25 an hour when they can hire overseas workers for $8 an hour to do the same jobs! The president is not doing anything to encourage private sector companies to hire Americans! A typical democrat all he knows how to do is spend and he is even spending while claiming he will save $1.3 TRILLION!!! He can lie all he wants (every polictician lies). But the truth is we are not going to get jobs as bridge builders, windmill makers or laying fiber optic cables!!! We dont even need more fiber optic cable! They have wireless internet all over now moron. Bottom line is people with no job dont buy new cars, they dont get bank loans etc. Unless Obama starts taxing big companies to the tune of $100K per overseas worker they have on the books & hire we are all doomed job wise in America. He wont cause the big companies and banks are in his pocket.

    February 25, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. No Rethuglicans

    Steele, Palin and Jindal are three blind mice. What a joke Jindal is. Across the country on every radio stream he is the joke of the day. President NEVER. The whole Rethuglican party is a joke. Hey Jindal you were right saying that the government didn't work during Katrina and we all know why it didn't, it was because the rethuglicans and Bush was in office. Please run for president cause that would give President Obama another four years for sure.
    Rethuglicans have fun spinning this one. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahh.

    February 25, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Jackie

    You know, unfortunately it doesn't matter who's in office and what they say. The other side is never going to be able to accept who's in charge and running things. There's to many differences between us, beliefs, ideologies etc. Even if I like Barrack, I can't bring myself to accept the Democrat's direction of the country. I just can't accept the social ideologies of the Democrats and I'm sure they don't accept the ideologies of the Republicans. The only time we'll come together is if our lives are in danger (ie: 911 attack) or something of that nature. So we just do the best we can.

    February 25, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. Sam Sixpack

    Sixty-eight percent of speech-watchers are communists.

    February 25, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. Alfred E Neumann

    What a wonderful speech.

    Very little on specificity but long on broad, generalities. The country needed a detailed Hillary Clinton type speech and what we got was oratory.

    Some of the posters here want to hurl insults – sad indeed.

    This country doesn't need an inspiring speech, it needs a detailed economic plan. I am afraid that we are going to be disappointed in this president but we should not be surprised.

    February 25, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. Eric

    Finch in CA... Bush somehow managed to get re-elected in 2004 after hosing this country two ways from Sunday. Even if Obama delivers on some of what he is talking about he will be elected again in a heart beat.

    If Jindal is the best the GOP has then they are in real trouble. Even if he had a different message (which wasn't even remotely the case) he couldn't deliver it out of a wet paper bag.

    February 25, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. russell

    Ultimately this was a great speech , but what I don't get ? why do so many of the republicans set back and complain ? Here's a helpful hint , don't complain if your not gonna offer anything by way of a plan other that tax cuts for the wealthy , try putting up your own proposals to the American people without benefiting the people who has benefitted from our tax dollars over the past eight years , at least this president has a plan of action , where's is the republican's plan of action , but let me understand this , you guys took action when ever the last president ask for money for a war that wasn't justified truely to the American people , now you complain against a president who is trying to move us forward , were is the logic in all of this madness .

    February 25, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. Toby in Illinois

    In the first paragraph, you say that he had two-thirds reacted positively. In the second paragraph, you note that 68% were very positive and 24% were somewhat positive. That adds up to 92% positive overall - a far cry indeed from your two-thirds.
    And CNN moves ever-so gradually, ever-so resolutely to the right.

    February 25, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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