The Economic Narrative in Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address

President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union, for the most part, struck a powerful chord as he described his economic vision for the country. Although a few sections received mixed reactions, following the speech, voters gave the President impressive assessments on key economic measures and were especially drawn to the President’s emphasis on the three themes emphasized in his speech – innovation, education, and America’s competitiveness in the future.


Dial testing and follow-up discussions with 50 swing voters in Denver, Colorado showed that President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union, for the most part, struck a powerful chord as he described his economic vision for the country.  Although a few sections received mixed reactions, following the speech, voters gave the President impressive assessments on key economic measures and were especially drawn to the President’s emphasis on the three themes emphasized in his speech – innovation, education, and America’s competitiveness in the future.  As one swing voter put it, “the future belongs to the people who make the what and the how.”

Despite their strong response to the State of the Union, many of these swing voters remain skeptical about Washington’s ability to deliver and are hungry for tangible changes in the economy.  As one Republican-leaning participant noted, “I didn’t vote for Obama, but the more often I listen, the more I like him.  I know he is a great orator, but also a good guy.  I’m just doubting his ability to get it done.” Getting past their skepticism will clearly be a central challenge. This report details where Obama’s speech worked and where it did not, taking a particular focus on Obama’s remarks on the economy.[1]


[1] This report includes several excerpts from our dial readings.

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