Bush Speech: How Did It Go Over?

People gather at Marble Collegiate Church to watch President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday, Jan.31, 2006, in New York. (AP Photo/Shiho Fukada). AP

A CBS News Poll of over 700 Americans who watched President Bush's State of the Union address found a large majority approved of the proposals he made and think they will make their lives better, but few thought he will be able to accomplish the goals he set out. Opinions about the war in Iraq - and the President himself – improved, though not dramatically.

As a group, Americans who watched the speech are more Republican than the nation as a whole. Historically, a President's supporters are more likely than his opponents to watch State of the Union addresses. 36 percent of speech viewers in this poll are Republican and 28 percent are Democrat. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll of all Americans, conducted January 20-25, 2006, the breakdown was much more even between the parties: 34 percent Democrat and 29 percent Republican.

Read the full CBS News poll release:
  • President Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address (.pdf)

  • Seventy-seven percent of speech watchers approved, and 23 percent disapproved, of the proposals the President laid out in his State of the Union speech – about the same number of watchers who approved of his plans in last year's State of the Union address.

    VIEWS OF THE SPEECH'S PROPOSALS (Among speech viewers)

    Now
    Approve
    77%
    Disapprove
    23%

    1/2005
    Approve
    80%
    Disapprove
    20%

    However, viewers are doubtful President Bush will be able to accomplish all the goals he set out in his speech. Just 32 percent say he will accomplish them. Last year, 41 percent said Mr. Bush would be able to accomplish his goals. Even after Tuesday night's speech, nearly seven in 10 think he will not be able to.

    Nearly all Republicans who watched the speech approve of the proposals presented in the speech, and over half of Democratic viewers approve. Republicans participating in the survey expressed confidence that the president will be able to accomplish all the goals outlined; Democrats did not think so.

    WILL BUSH BE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH THE GOALS HE SET OUT IN HIS SPEECH? (Among speech viewers)

    Now
    Yes
    32%
    No
    68%

    1/2005
    Yes
    41%
    No
    59%

    A majority of speech viewers are hopeful about how President Bush's proposals may affect them. About six in 10 think the Bush proposals would make their own life better, a third say they would have no effect.

    When asked to pick from a list of issues addressed by President Bush, speech watchers choose terrorism as the most important issue, followed closely by health care. Tied for third are the economy and energy, followed by education and taxes.

    WOULD BUSH'S PROPOSALS MAKE YOUR LIFE …
    (Among speech viewers)

    Better
    59%
    Worse
    9%
    No effect
    33%

    President Bush said that his budget-cutting reforms would cut the deficit in half by 2009. But when asked about the federal budget deficit, almost half of speech watchers expect the deficit to be bigger at the end of President Bush's second term than it is now. Another 27 percent say it will be smaller and the same number say the deficit will be unchanged.

    Addressing the House, Senate, Supreme Court justices, numerous guests of honor assembled for the State of the Union, as well as the national audience listening and watching the speech, President Bush said "We remain on the offensive against terrorist networks." Among survey participants who watched the speech, over half say the U.S. is winning the war on terrorism, although 38 percent think neither the U.S. nor the terrorists are winning.

    • Christine Lagorio

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