Voter reaction to the president’s economic discussion in the State of the Union shows that Democrats have a lot to learn about their economic narrative in the coming year. Voters responded very positively to the president’s turn to jobs as priority number one for the next year, but they responded differently to politicians talking about progress and success. With the economy growing at its fastest pace in six years and wages growing at their slowest in the past quarter-century, there is a growing gap that makes the communication about the economy harder, not easier.
Also, the president was successful in talking about the history of economic policies that produced the current financial and deficit crisis – without producing a negative reaction from voters for whining or blaming the past. Using our unique dial testing focus groups where we had 50 swing voters give their real time reactions to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, we are able to examine how voters responded to different parts of the speech, paying particular attention to how they respond to the president on the economy.