Viewership of President Obama’s first State of the Union was down 7% from the 51.7 million people who watched President Bush’s first official State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, but up 5% from the 45.8 million people who watched President Clinton’s first official address on January 25, 1994.
Obama Generates Buzz
Although President Obama drew fewer viewers to his debut State of the Union address than his immediate predecessor, his speech still ranks among the most-talked-about topics of 2010 so far. Discussion of the State of the Union rose sharply from January 26-28, 2010, although the Haitian earthquake spiked to the highest levels of any discussion topic for the month on January 14.
Obama Needs Help from State of the Union
While it will probably be some time before the effectiveness of President Obama’s address can truly be evaluated, the president can only hope it will help boost his image among US voters. President Obama received 60% negative ratings and only 40% positive ratings, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive.
In comparison, President George W. Bush has the highest ratings one year into office as 79% gave him positive ratings in January 2002 as the nation was still recovering from the events of September 11, 2001. One year into his first term, Americans were divided on Bill Clinton (50% positive/48% negative). President George H.W. Bush had similar high numbers (70%) in February 1990 as the nation was seeing the quick resolution to the first Gulf War.
In addition, another recent Harris Interactive poll indicates more than four in five US adults (84%) give negative ratings to the current state of the union, with 40% saying it is poor, the lowest on the Harris Poll scale. Just 16% give the state of the union positive ratings, with only 3% saying it is excellent, the highest possible rating.