Biden SOTU Has Lowest 'Very Positive' Ratings of Any President Since 1998: CNN Poll


If you didn’t think President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night was any great shakes, join CNN’s polling cohort.

According to a survey conducted by the cable news stalwart and SSRS, only 34 percent of respondents reacted very positively.

While another 38 percent said they had viewed the speech “somewhat positively” for a net total of 72 percent positive, this is still generally low for presidents. The last time any president recorded a number below that was a quarter century ago, when it was a chief executive mired in a scandal that would threaten his administration.

“That pattern of broad but tempered enthusiasm is similar to the reception for Biden’s speech last year. In 2022, 71% of speech-watchers reacted positively to his address, with 41% saying their reaction was very positive,” CNN reported.

“Good marks from speech-watchers are typical for presidential addresses to Congress – in past years, most viewers reported positive reactions to third-year addresses from former presidents Donald Trump (76% positive), Barack Obama (84% positive) and George W. Bush (84% positive),” the network added.

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“The 34% who reacted very positively to Biden’s speech is the lowest in CNN’s speech reaction polls dating back to 1998.”

“Biden’s speech received a particularly warm reception from Democrats (62% had a very positive reaction), liberals (57% very positive) and older speech-watchers (52% very positive among those age 65 or older),” CNN’s report continued.

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“Among those younger than 45, though, just 21% reported a very positive reaction, even as speech-watchers in this age group were just as likely as those age 65 or older to say that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction (75% younger than 45 said so, as did 76% of those age 65 or older). “

Yes, even CNN can’t cover for him here. Furthermore, it’s probably worth mentioning why the numbers on the 1998 speech were so low.

In case you’ve forgotten in the interim, it isn’t that then-President Bill Clinton announced a federal plan to institute firing squads for puppies. In fact, it likely had nothing to do with the content at all. A desultory look at the text of the speech shows a fairly upbeat president touting a balanced budget, good economic growth and American strength abroad.

Compared with 2023’s SOTU — with its pleas for more spending on Keynesian ditch-digging infrastructure projects, promises to grab semi-automatic weapons, and exhortations to Congress to pass laws that would federalize the right to an abortion and mandate doctors give transgender therapies to vulnerable minors — 1998’s reads like a fairytale.

Instead, it was a matter of timing. That State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 27, 1998, came less than two weeks after online journalist Matt Drudge first reported Clinton may have lied under oath about an affair with an intern, and just a day after Clinton uttered the infamous words: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

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Americans didn’t believe him, given they knew he was William Jefferson Clinton — a man whose near-satyrical history of philandering could only likely be tamed with a chastity belt. Lo and behold, they were correct to dismiss his denial, and much of the remainder of Clinton’s term was given over to the sturm und drang of impeachment drama.

Averaging Biden’s “very positive” ratings in polls taken after his two State of the Union addresses, you only have 38 percent. Compare this with Trump (54 percent), Obama (50 percent), George W. Bush (53 percent) or Clinton (54 percent).

And yet, various Democrats touted this as a good performance. Here are two White House functionaries’ takes:

As did other Bidenistas on Twitter:

Yes, Biden’s “very positive” approval rating could barely clear a bar set 25 years ago by a man accused the week before of lying under oath about sexually exploiting a White House intern. That’s their president! They’re proud of him, dagnabbit.

Thankfully for CNN, the liberal news network had this to say about the poll results: “State of the Union addresses rarely have major, lasting impact on presidents’ approval numbers, particularly in recent years.” For the Biden White House, that’s the good news.

The bad news? As CNN reported on the day of the speech, Biden’s approval numbers stunk already. Oh well.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture