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CBS Poll: Speech Has Up Side For Bush

Americans who watched President Bush's State of the Union Address generally approve of the proposals he outlined, but few think he will be able to accomplish the goals he set out, according to a CBS News Poll conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the speech. In addition, the president improved his image among speech-watchers and made gains on Iraq and immigration.

Eight in ten speech-watchers approve of the proposals Mr. Bush made in his speech – typical of the high support a president receives among those who choose to watch this message. Just about as many viewers in 2005 and 2006 said they approved of the proposals he made then.

The same individuals were interviewed both before and immediately after the speech – and those who watched the speech were more supportive of the president beforehand than Americans overall.

Viewers are doubtful President Bush will be able to accomplish all the goals he set out in his speech. Just 32% say he will.

As expected, Republicans who watched the speech are more likely than Democrats to approve of the proposals laid out in the Bush speech. In addition, 52% of Republican viewers think the president will be able to accomplish his goals, while 84% of Democratic viewers do not think he will.

This was the first State of the Union address that President Bush delivered before a Congress controlled by Democrats. The president talked a lot about cooperation with Congress, saying: "We can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people." 41% of speech-watchers think the president and Congress will be able to work together to deal with the country's problems. This is up 8 points from what the same individuals said before the speech.

On Congress' reaction to the speech, speech-watchers think most members of Congress approved of the proposals he talked about. The speech was interrupted by applause 61 times, including 24 times when nearly all members gave him a standing ovation.

81% of Americans who watched thought Mr. Bush struck the right balance between Iraq and domestic issues in his speech.

In discussing Iraq, the president said "it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory." A slim majority of speech-watchers – 52% - favor sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq. This is an improvement from before the speech when just 43% of the same people supported sending more troops.

Nearly six in 10 speech-watchers do think the U.S. will ultimately succeed in Iraq. 58% say it is at least somewhat likely the U.S. will succeed there, but 41% think success is not likely.

President Bush discussed an energy plan which included a call for a 20% reduction in gasoline consumption by 2017. Watchers of the speech seem to like what the president had to say: 67% think he will make the right decisions when it comes to energy conservation and consumption. Immediately after last year's State of the Union address, reactions were similar.

The president made his biggest gain on the issue of immigration. After the speech, 56% of viewers said they approve of the President's handling of immigration, while 44% disapprove. Before the speech, just 31% approved. In his speech, Mr. Bush continued to call for a temporary guest worker program for illegal immigrants. He made gains among both Democrats and Republicans on the issue of immigration.

Last week, State of the Union speech-watchers were somewhat divided in their opinions on whether the president is a strong leader and fewer than half – 47% - found him trustworthy. In addition, a clear majority said President Bush did not share their priorities for the country.

The president's image improved among these viewers following the speech. Fifty-seven percent of speech-watchers say President Bush has strong qualities of leadership, and 54% think he is trustworthy. On sharing their priorities, 53% of viewers say he does; up from 38% last week.

Americans who watched the speech were more likely to approve of the overall job President Bush is doing as president than Americans overall. 43% of speech viewers said they approved of the job President Bush is doing heading into the speech, compared to 28% of all Americans in the latest CBS News Poll.

This CBS News Poll was conducted online by Knowledge Networks among a nationwide random sample of 525 State of the Union viewers. 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. This is a scientifically representative poll of viewers' reaction to the speech. The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus 4 percentage points for the entire sample of speech-watchers.