Poll: High Marks for Obama's State of the Union Speech

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress while delivering his State of the Union speech January 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. During his speech Obama was expected to focus on the U.S. economy and increasing education and infrastructure funding while proposing a three-year partial freeze of domestic programs and $78 billion in military spending cuts. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images) CBS

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CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.


Updated: Jan. 26, 12:31AM ET with Final Numbers

An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers.

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president's address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

Last year, 83 percent of viewers approved of Mr. Obama's State of the Union remarks.

CBSNews.com Special Coverage: State of the Union 2011

This year, 82 percent of those who watched the speech said they approve of the president's plans for the economy, up from 53 percent who approved before the speech. Eighty percent said they approved of Mr. Obama's plans for the deficit -- in contrast to 45 percent before the speech. Eighty-three percent approved of Mr. Obama's proposals regarding Afghanistan, which received only a 57 percent approval rating beforehand.

The sight of Democrats and Republicans sitting side by side gave speech watchers more confidence about the possibility of bipartisan cooperation: 62 percent said they expect more bipartisanship now than in years past.

In his speech, Mr. Obama outlined ways to limit federal spending and reign in the deficit. Of those watching, fifty-six percent said they think the president's economic plans could reduce government spending; 43 percent were not persuaded.

The president had more success convincing viewers that his economic proposals would lead to job growth and increased success on the international playing field: 75 percent of viewers said they thought the president's plans would make America more competitive in the world economy, and 75 percent also said they thought the plans outlined in his speech would create jobs. That's up from 55 percent before the speech.

Mr. Obama also defended health care reform in the speech -- and approval of the law saw a slight boost among speech watchers. Sixty-five percent said they approved of the health care law after the address, a nine-point boost from pre-speech numbers.

Americans who watched the speech were generally more Democratic than the nation as a whole. Forty-four percent of viewers polled were Democrats and 25 percent were Republicans. (Historically speaking, that is not an unusual statistic: a president's supporters are more likely than his opponents to watch State of the Union addresses.)

Tuesday night was Mr. Obama's second State of the Union address as president. In his remarks, Mr. Obama focused on creating jobs and economic growth, national unity, and spurring American innovation through research and education.

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Read the Complete Poll

The poll, conducted by CBS News, with the help of Knowledge Networks, has a nationally representative poll of approximately 500 people who watched President Obama give his State of the Union address, reacting in the minutes after the President's speech. This is a scientifically representative poll of speech watchers. The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

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