CBS/YouGov flash poll: Viewers overwhelmingly approved of Trump's SOTU; ratings up too

A 76% approval rating for a Donald Trump speech? Wait for the context, CBS News reminds its readers in covering its own flash poll conducted with YouGov. The partisan ID of the viewers skewed significantly Republican, which turned out to be Trump’s target audience for the State of the Union address despite earlier suggestions that the focus would be on comity and unity.

But hey, it wasn’t skewed that far:

Seventy-six percent of Americans who tuned in to President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night approved of the speech he gave. Just 24 percent disapproved.

As is often the case in State of the Union addresses, the people who watched tonight’s speech leaned more towards the president’s own party, at least compared to Americans overall. In the latest CBS national poll released last month, 25 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republicans. Among those who watched Tuesday night’s address, that figure was 43 percent, and Republicans helped bolster the overall approval of the address.

The sample may not have been representative in partisan identification, but neither was it monolithic. It’s not terribly surprising that Republicans would be more likely to watch a Republican(ish) president give a speech on national television, nor would it surprise many to hear that Democrats would tend to ignore it. However, the D/R/I of viewers turned out to be 24/43/30, so demographics don’t entirely explain how Trump got a 76% approval.

Also, last night’s audience was larger than last year’s SOTU, CNN reports:

The preliminary household rating for the State of the Union, across 12 broadcast networks and cable channels, was 32.1, meaning that 32 percent of all the households in America were tuned in to the speech.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings count viewership at home via TV sets. Most streaming video and out-of-home viewership is counted separately.

Trump’s 2018 State of the Union had a 30.7 overnight rating on the same 12 channels, and that speech ultimately averaged about 45.8 million viewers.

Larger crowd and better numbers? The White House can’t be unhappy about those results, nor with the polling.

How did the approval break down along party lines? No one will be shocked to learn that 97% of the Republicans who tuned into the SOTU Show liked what they heard. Perhaps more surprisingly, so did 82% of the independents who watched, although that might also be due to selection bias; those independents who watched might be more inclined to support Trump. That, however, doesn’t explain why thirty percent of Democrats approved of Trump’s speech. Not unless one believes that Trump wins somewhere between 15% and 25% of Democrats in the next election, that is.

Trump didn’t do quite as well on the White House’s declared theme of unity, but he didn’t do badly either, with 56% believing the speech will help. Only 8% thought it would hurt, while 36% have watched more than one or two SOTUs and know it won’t change anything. (I suspect that a solid number of Republican viewers fell into that category.) However, Trump scored high marks on the major issues:

  • Immigration – 72/28
  • War policies and the Middle East – 74/26
  • Crisis on the southern border? – 71% yes, 29% no
  • Trump/Kim Summit II: Nuclear Boogaloo – 78/22

It’s not bad for a speech hardly anyone will remember — and whose highlights will hardly be moments of comity and unity.