President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address was met with deeply positive reviews, matching the best ratings for any of his State of the Union addresses, according to a CNN/ORC instant poll of those who watched the speech.
But assessing Obama’s time in office, more say his presidency has fallen short of their expectations than say it has exceeded them.
Overall, 53% had a “very positive” reaction to the President’s speech, matching the highest rating of his presidency reached following his 2013 address. Another 20% said they had a somewhat positive reaction to his speech, 25% reported a negative one.
Most speech watchers say the policies Obama is proposing would move the country in the right direction (68%), a smaller group feel they would take the nation the wrong way (29%). Those figures are not far off the mark Obama set last year, when 72% thought the policies he proposed would move the nation in the right direction, the highest mark of his presidency.
The poll is representative only of those who watched Tuesday’s State of the Union, a group that tends to be more supportive of the President giving it than the population as a whole. Among those speech-watchers interviewed tonight, 42% consider themselves Democrats, 24% Republicans, a more Democratic tilt than Americans as a whole.
That’s reflected in their views of Obama’s policies on several key issues, with majorities across-the-board saying they think the President’s policies would move the nation in the right direction. Speech-watchers were most apt to say they would move the nation in the right direction on climate change (73%), with smaller majorities saying so about the economy (67%), gun policy (66%), terrorism (64%), health care policy (63%) and immigration (57%).
But 48% of those who watched the speech said that overall, Obama’s presidency has fallen short of their expectations, compared with just 18% who say the President exceeded their expectations over his nearly seven years in office. Another 33% said the President’s time in office met their expectations.
Majorities see Obama’s presidency as a success in addressing the economy (66%), climate change (68%), health care policy (60%) and terrorism (54%), but most speech-watchers say it’s been more of a failure when it comes to immigration (52%) and gun policy (53%).
The poll includes interviews with 386 adult Americans who watched Obama’s speech, results among speech-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. Respondents were originally interviewed as part of a random national sample conducted January 5-11, and indicated they planned to watch tonight’s speech and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over.