Instant Polls Very Positive for Obama State of the Union

Strong marks--we'll see if they hold.

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The insta-returns are in and the president knocked the State of the Union out of the ballpark.

[Read a brief history of the State of the Union addresses.]

CBS News's quickie poll had 91 percent of those watching the speech approving of the president's performance.

Specifically, 82 percent of those who watched the speech said they approve of the president's plans for the economy, up from 53 percent who approved before the speech.

CNN also ran an instant poll with its Opinion Research partner. They found that 52 percent of those who had watched the speech had a "very positive" reaction and an additional 32 percent had an "somewhat positive" response. An overall positive mark of 84 percent ain't bad. And one other figure from deep in the poll: 77 percent said that the speech made them feel "more optimistic" about the country's direction over the next few years, as opposed to 19 percent who feel more pessimistic. As my bloleague Jamie Stiehm wrote yesterday, presidents succeed when they speak in optimistic tones. (And compare that with Rep. Paul Ryan's gloomdoggling response.)

No great surprises here. The speech was well-delivered and seemed to be constructed not to pick partisan fights but rather position him as the adult in the room when the inevitable partisan fights do spark in the coming weeks and months.

Now the caveats: These were small-sample (500 for CBS, 475 for CNN) polls and the snappiest of snapshots. Political history is rife with speeches that are initial hits and subsequently fade, and State of the Union addresses in particular quickly fade into the background noise.[See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

It wasn't a poll but one response that did catch my eye: "Tonight President Obama highlighted the urgent need to revitalize our economy, create jobs, build a world-class infrastructure system, and strengthen America's competitiveness in his State of the Union address." This came from Obama critic Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To the extent that the chamber is willing to get behind infrastructure improvements, that's a strong sign for the president.

  • Read A Brief History of the State of the Union.
  • See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.
  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Obama.