Beneath The Hype For Biden’s SOTU Address, Red Flags Emerge In CNN Poll
US President Joe Biden during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 7, 2024.
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A CNN survey examining President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address contains warning signs for the commander-in-chief.

The White House touted the top-line finding that up to 65% of respondents had a net positive overall reaction to the speech. Allies also pointed to a 17-point jump in viewers’ confidence that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction.

But beyond the top-line findings, journalists and pundits said the data also raised red flags, particularly when compared to surveys of the reaction to past State of the Union speeches over the past few decades.

“Actually lower than last year. But you wonder about the denominator. The modern SOTU audience is slanted towards people who like/want to hear the president, but there are more ‘will he collapse’ rubberneckers w Biden,” Semafor reporter David Weigel said in a post to X.

He was reacting to early numbers from SSRS, an independent research company that conducted the poll for CNN, showing Biden getting 64% overall positive reaction to the address.

Ben Domenech, editor at large of The Spectator World, posted statistics comparing the positive versus negative net reactions to all four of Biden’s addresses to a joint session of Congress since taking office. They showed a consistent downtrend from 2021 when Biden received a 78% net positive reaction.

“His worst performance by far. Keep in mind viewership skews D,” Domenech said in his post to X.

Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake made a similar point, noting in a report that State of the Union addresses “almost always receive strongly favorable views, in part because viewership tends to draw disproportionately from their allies.”


Blake also said, “The 65 percent who had a positive view of the speech was actually lower than any such speech CNN has polled in the past quarter-century — the previous low being Donald Trump’s 2018 address (70 percent).”

He added, “And the 35 percent who offered a ‘very’ positive review was effectively tied with Biden’s speech last year (34 percent) for the lowest on record. The next lowest were Biden’s 2022 speech and George W. Bush’s 2007 speech, which each earned ‘very’ positive marks from 41 percent of viewers.”

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