01/22/2015 04:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Did the Public Like Obama's State of the Union Speech?

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Democrat leaders loved President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, while Republican leaders didn't. But what did the American people think of it? Here are five lessons we learned.

1) Americans are more enthusiastic about Obama's policies now than before the SOTU.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article with polling data that suggested there is a big disconnect between the people and the politicians, like Obama and the Republican speakers. But a closer look shows that it was taken several days before the SOTU.

In the CNN poll, 72 percent felt Obama's policies will move the country in the right direction. That's up over 57 percent who felt that way several days before the State of the Union speech.


2) People surveyed were generally positive about the speech.

In the CNN poll, 51 percent found the speech to be "very positive" and another 30 percent found it "somewhat positive." Only 18 percent found it either somewhat or very negative.

3) Voters liked Obama's 2015 SOTU better than his 2014 SOTU.

In their critique of Obama's speech, Republican leaders claimed it offered "more of the same." But that's not how CNN's sample saw it. Nearly one-quarter found it "very effective" while another 44 percent believed it to be "somewhat effective." That's better than last year, where CNN found that only 18 percent found it "very effective," with another 50 percent feeling it was "somewhat effective."

4) Poll respondents liked some issues better than others.

The Washington Post had a small focus group
which looked at how the participants felt about Obama on the issues. But what did a larger sample think?

Those questioned by CNN pollsters
gave the highest marks to Obama on education (78 percent = right direction), perhaps reflecting support for his community college plan. In second was "race relations (74 percent)," rebutting criticism that even Rand Paul talked more about race than Obama did. After that, respondents felt Obama's policies would take us in the right direction for the economy (71 percent), terrorism (69 percent), taxes (64 percent) and immigration (60 percent).

5) Americans still want Obama to work with Republicans in Congress.

The biggest critique voters have with Obama
seems to be his style. Nearly three-quarters want Obama to forge a bipartisan compromise with Republicans in Congress. That's up over 67 percent who felt that way a year ago. There's a drop in support for unilateral action over the past year, by six percentage points.

Republicans frequently used the line "missed opportunity" to respond to Obama's 2015 State of the Union address. But actually, it sounds more like a golden opportunity. The only question is whether the president will be able use this newfound public support. It appears that they would prefer compromises to Obama's newfound desire for executive orders.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at