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Most speech watchers say State of the Union made them feel optimistic, proud - CBS News poll

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Most Americans who watched President Biden's first State of the Union address approved of what they heard, and many said it made them feel optimistic and proud.

After nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic, more than half who tuned in Tuesday night said the speech made them feel like the coronavirus is mostly behind us.

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Older Americans who watched the speech were a bit more likely to say the speech made them feel the coronavirus will be with us for a while. CBS News interviewed speech viewers immediately after the president's speech.

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Overall, about 8 in 10 of speech watchers approved of Mr. Biden's address tonight, including majorities of both Democrats and independents. Among members of his own party, his speech received high marks among both liberals and moderates.

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As we've seen with previous presidents' State of the Union speeches, those who watched tonight are more likely to be from the president's own political party, boosting approval of the speech. 

In the latest CBS national poll released earlier this week, 34% of Americans identified themselves as Democrats.  Among those who watched tonight's speech, that percentage was 49%.

Former President Trump received a high approval rating for his first State of the Union address in 2018, among a viewing audience who leaned more Republican than the nation as a whole.

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The president's policies were received positively by speech watchers. Inflation has been a top concern for people, and Mr. Biden talked about his plans for tackling it. After the speech, more viewers said his policies would help lower inflation than they did before the speech. His policies on the coronavirus and dealing with Russia got a bump too. 

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At times, Mr. Biden struck an empathetic tone. More viewers who tuned in feel they will be helped by the economic proposals he presented tonight, than hurt. 

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Viewers wanted to hear Mr. Biden talk about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and he did. Most Americans who watched the speech on Tuesday night came away feeling the president's policies will deal with Russia effectively. 

Most who watched say the president struck the right approach to Russia in the speech. Although 3 in 10 didn't think he was tough enough. 

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Heading into the State of the Union, speech viewers expressed concern about a wider war in Europe as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Two-thirds told us that the speech made them feel the U.S. is not likely to get involved in a war. 

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This CBS News survey is based on 1,486  interviews of adults who watched the President's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. An initial survey was conducted by YouGov between February 24-28, 2022, using a nationally representative sample of 10,535 U.S. adults, including 4,133 respondents who planned to watch the address. Respondents who planned to watch the speech were asked if they were willing to be reinterviewed. Only those who watched the speech were included in the analysis.

The initial sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based upon the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, well as 2020 Presidential vote. The final sample of post-speech re-interviews was weighted to be representative of those who said they would watch the President's address according to gender, age, race, education, geographic region, 2020 presidential vote, and pre-speech partisan identification. The margin of error is ±3.3 pts. 

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