Biden State of the Union – full live dial meter analysis

On behalf of PSG Consulting and the AFT, Democracy Corps on March 1, 2022, conducted online dial meter research during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Speech. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

  • Going into speech three quarters thought country on wrong track. Reading their open-ended responses, people were dealing with uncertain end of the pandemic and big rise inflation, and a divided Democratic Party stopped helping. It took a terrible toll on the President Biden, the Democratic Party and Democrats in Congress. Their own base of voters were the hardest on them. Their base disengaged as well. The voters think it is the Democrats who put party before country. And the Republican Party is viewed more favorably.
  • The greatest success of the President’s State of the Union was in doubling the proportion who thought on the right track. He got the attention of very disappointed Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans white millennials/GenZ and unmarried women, as well as under 50 white working class and GOP defectors – key groups in the upcoming elections.
  • Anger with Congress meant speech barely moved generic vote, but it did move Biden’s approval and favorability. Because it was suppressed with the base, those gains could hold better than earlier SOTUS.
  • Inflation remains a problem but worse, Republicans were seen as better on the economy, the middle class, helping your family, and dealing with cost of living. Biden shifted those, but Democrats began in a hole that showed them failing working families.
  • Immigration is hurting Democrats. The speech shifted more voters to trust Democrats, including our own base. Biden got a rise on tackling the border, but the dial lines went down as he spoke about comprehensive immigration reform with Hispanics and white millennials.
  • His comments on the NYPD and funding the police helped him with all voters, including Blacks.
  • The country is deeply anti-big corporations and rallies to them paying taxes. It is one of the biggest shifts from the speech and Democrats have high standing on health care affordability, big corporations and prioritizing American jobs and addressing climate change. The speech moved them ahead on helping families dealing with these costs.
  • All parts of America are looking for a strong leader. This is not about scoring high on an authoritarian scale, as it does not correlate with party or class.
  • The country is polarized by perception of deep polarization, reactions to MAGA and Trump, and America’s changing racial composition. It is translating into a distrust of government.
  • We identified in the work for the AFT that the less culturally conservative white working class under 50 that has been receiving direct benefits for government, including the child tax credit is more open to the Democrats. That is evident in the reaction to the speech and pre- and post-surveys. That is particularly true for the women, but both responded well to the speech.
  • Hispanics act like they are not fully home among Democrats, but Biden’s speech was very successful with them, except immigration. What Biden said on fighting crime and funding the police has to be part of the agenda going forward. They have to hear the economic help, as well as greater cultural affinity.
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