During Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address, Democracy Corps conducted dial tests and follow-up focus groups with 44 swing voters in Colorado. We found President Obama’s agenda for a “year of action”—expressed through new policies for energy, pay equity, jobs, and education—was well-received by voters. The President made impressive gains on his personal favorability, improving from net -2 (48 percent warm, 50 percent cool) to net +27 (64 percent warm, 37 percent cool.) On this key metric—voters’ personal feelings toward the President—he clearly won our audience in Denver.
There is much here to commend the President’s performance. He made major gains on having good plans for the economy, looking out for the middle class, and looking out for the interest of women. And in focus groups following the speech, voters gave him high marks on his push for paycheck fairness, minimum wage, education, student loans, and job training. Even Republicans in our audience responded positively to Obama’s plan for paycheck fairness.
As voters told us in follow-up focus groups, they were skeptical of the President heading into this speech. But his heavy emphasis on improving the economy at the pocketbook level—especially for women—won these voters over. The president made major gains on these key economic metrics and on looking out for the interests of women.
These voters are looking to Washington to move on these important issues that affect them at a pocketbook level every day. Republicans should not believe that these voters blame both parties equally. They do not. However, these voters are looking to the President for real leadership and real action. They like what he had to say. Now they want him to follow through.