Poll: Bush Gets Boost From Speech

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According to a CBS News/Knowledge Networks Poll, President Bush's State of the Union address reassured viewers that he shares their priorities for the nation, convinced them that his tax cut proposals would be good for the economy, and solidified his case for military action against Iraq.

The speech helped Mr. Bush make the case for war against Iraq. Before the speech, support for a military strike was already high among viewers, with two-thirds in favor. After the speech, it climbed to 77% of viewers favoring military action.






U.S. MILITARY ACTION TO REMOVE SADDAM HUSSEIN?

Approve before speech 67%

Disapprove before speech 32%


Approve after speech 77%

Disapprove after speech 22%


Although viewers backed the idea of a military strike, when it comes to the timing of any action, after the speech they were evenly split on whether the U.S. should take action now or give the U.N. inspectors more time.

WHAT SHOULD U.S. DO NOW WITH IRAQ?

Take military action soon 51%


Give U.N. more time 49%


While support for action was strong across party lines, it was far stronger among Republicans than Democrats. 94% of Republicans who watched the speech now approve of military action and just one-third of them want to give the U.N. any more time. 67% of Democrats now support action, but over six in ten still want to give the U.N. more time right now.

PARTISAN DIFFERENCES AND WAR WITH IRAQ

Approve of military action
Republicans 94%

Democrats 67%


Want to give U.N. more time
Republicans 33%

Democrats 62%


Turning to the economy, two-thirds of viewers said they believe President Bush's new tax proposals would be good for the economy. In 2002, 49% of speech watchers thought that the Bush tax cut proposals he announced that year would be good for the economy.

But there were large partisan differences on the subject. An overwhelming number of Republicans think the cuts will be a cure for the economy's ills, while only 43% of Democrats agree.

DO YOU THINK THE PROPOSALS WILL BE...

Good for the economy

All 66%

Republicans 89%

Democrats 43%


Bad for the economy
All 10%

Republicans 3%

Democrats 19%


Will make no difference
All 24%

Republicans 8%

Democrats 38%


Mr. Bush seemed to reassure viewers about the fate of their future tax bills. Prior to the speech, a majority believed their taxes were bound to increase in the coming two years. Following the speech, just 27% came away thinking their taxes were going up.

IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS YOUR TAXES WILL...

Before Speech
Increase 54%

Decrease 15%

Stay the same 30%


After Speech
Increase 27%

Decrease 41%

Stay the same 31%


Overall, 81% of viewers now believe that the president has the same priorities for the nation as they do, a dramatic increase from the 54% who thought so before the speech. In 2001, 71% of people who watched Bush's first address to Congress came away thinking he shared their priorities.

DOES BUSH HAVE SAME PRIORITIES FOR NATION AS YOU DO?

Before speech
Yes 54%

No 46%


After speech
Yes 81%

No 19%


Those who watched the speeches were more Republican than the nation as a whole. Historically, a President's supporters are more likely to watch his speeches. The viewers in this poll were 37% Republican. The latest CBS News Poll of January 22nd shows 29% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

SPEECH VIEWERS AND AMERICANS' PARTY AFFILIATION

Viewers
Republican 37%

Democrat 28%

Independent 35%


All Americans
Republican 29%

Democrat 32%

Independent 39%


The Democrats' Response

The formal response by the party not in the White House to a State of the Union Address is generally low-key. Poll respondents who also watched the Democratic response to the State of the Union believed that Washington Governor Gary Locke and the Democrats did not present a clear alternative to Mr. Bush. Only a minority, 46%, said they did. Viewers of Locke's response also did not believe that the Democrat's plan would do a better job than Mr. Bush's of stimulating the economy, only 42% thought so.

But the speech did find favor among Democrats who watched: 73% of them said Locke presented a clear alternative, and 71% of them said their party's plan was the better one.

THE DEMOCRATIC PLAN

Presented a clear alternative
All 46%

Republicans 21%

Democrats 73%


Would do a better job stimulating the economy
All 42%

Republicans 10%

Democrats 71%




This CBS News poll was conducted online Knowledge Networks among a nationwide random sample of 638 State of the Union viewers. 571 of these viewers also responded to questions concerning the Democratic response. This is a scientifically representative poll of viewers' reaction to the speech. Knowledge Networks, a Silicon Valley company, conducted the poll among a sample of adult members of its household panel who said in recent days that they intended to watch the speech. The Knowledge Networks panel is a nationally representative sample given access to the Internet via Web TV. The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus four percentage points for the entire sample of speech watchers.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • John Esterbrook

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