For one night at least, President Obama’s ambitious agenda received broad public praise, according to an MSNBC/SurveyMonkey online survey. Big majorities of those tuning into his second to last State of the Union address were happy with his speech, supportive of the direction he’s taking the country, and approving of his plan to shift more of the tax burden to the wealthy.
Just after the president’s fourth State of the Union (he’s also had two inaugural addresses), we attempted something ambitious—using the SurveyMonkey platform to capture instant reaction to a live event in a very compressed time-frame. For about two hours after the Tuesday address, we tapped into a sample of the more than two million daily survey takers on SurveyMonkey and completed online interviews with 1,429 adults, including 651 who watched or listened to the speech.
Here’s what we found:
Seventy-three percent of those tuning into the president’s speech said they were either enthusiastic or satisfied with the proposals he laid out. By 2 to 1 (64 to 32 percent), they favored his plans to have high-income Americans pay more to fund new programs aimed at middle-class families.
Still, nearly half wished he had spent more time talking about their own top issue, and more than a third of those tuning in—including most Republican watchers—said the president’s proposals will do more to divide than unite the country.
These detractors will find big support from the new, Republican-dominated Congress, which will almost certainly put the brakes on much of what the president outlined.
The proverbial “second-screen” was a big part of the speech-watching experience this year. Nearly three in 10 (28 percent) of all those tuning in–jumping to 41 percent among younger viewers—said they simultaneously followed address-related commentary on social media.
Thirty-eight percent of the speech-watchers in this survey identified themselves as Democrats, just 16 percent as Republicans, continuing a tradition where the president’s fellow partisans are more apt than those in the opposing party to tune into the annual address. The overall sample of adults had a partisan make-up consistent with concurrent national polls.
Among those not tuning in, 21 percent said simply they chose not to watch because they don’t like Obama, and a similar proportion (23 percent) said they just had other stuff to do. Another 18 percent said they didn’t know it was on, 13 percent said they aren’t interested in politics, and 25 percent gave another reason.
The MSNBC/SurveyMonkey online survey following the State of the Union follows our successful predictions of the 2014 midterm elections. This joint effort with NBC News is part of our commitment to contributing to a broader understanding of online data collection.
The survey was conducted Tuesday, Jan. 20 using SurveyMonkey, and weighted for age, race, sex, education and region to match U.S. Census data. A total of 1,429 U.S. adults completed surveys, including 651 who watched or listened to the president’s address. Interviews were completed in the two hours following the speech. Those who completed the survey were selected from the more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The survey has an error margin of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for the full sample and 5.8 points for speech-watchers, calculated using bootstrapped confidence intervals.
You can read more about the project in our press release. Leave us your Comments below! And as always, thanks for reading.