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Americans Didn't Tune in for State of the Union Address

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Tuesday's State of the Union address sure has gotten attention for the ways in which some Republican members reacted to President Joe Biden's lies, but among the chatter, it's worth wondering if people actually tuned in for the address? 


Not really, it turns out, given that just 27.3 million people watched, according to data from Nielsen across 16 networks. That's a decline of 29 percent, as is mentioned in Deadline's headline. The Hill mentioned in their headline that the ratings took "a nosedive."

Those ratings look even worse when compared to previous years, and the lack of viewers in the demographics that Biden needs support from. As Deadline mentioned:

That figure is the lowest audience for a SOTU in at least 30 years, according to Nielsen records. Biden’s 2021 speech to a joint session of Congress drew 26.9 million, but that event, coming just a couple months into his presidency, was not an official State of the Union speech.

The Nielsen figures were measurements of 16 TV networks. Last year, 38.2 million watched across 16 networks.

Nielsen said that 59% watched broadcast network coverage and 41% watched cable coverage. Some 73% of viewers were 55 and older, with 19% aged 35-54 and 5% 18-34.

The ratings look even worse when stacked up against former President Donald Trump's ratings.


How did the Americans who watched it feel about the address? There's already that major caveat in that so few of them watched it, but CNN has provided some data in that their poll showed 72 percent of Americans had a positive reaction to the speech, including 34 percent who had a "very positive" reaction. 

As was the case with last year's polling about last year's address, though, there's more than meets the eye. CNN also compiled data on presidential averages from President Bill Clinton to Biden. It turns out Biden had the lowest average when it comes to Americans who say they had a "very positive" reaction following his address. 

Biden is at a 38 percent "very positive" average, while President Barack Obama had a 50 percent average in that "very positive" category," President George W. Bush had a 53 percent average, and Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump had a 54 percent average. 

Trump and Biden were virtually tied in having the highest average of those Americans who said they had a "very negative" view, at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. 

This poll also reflects how the president still has trouble with younger Americans too. "Among those younger than 45, though, just 21% reported a very positive reaction, even as speech-watchers in this age group were just as likely as those age 65 or older to say that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction (75% younger than 45 said so, as did 76% of those age 65 or older)," CNN noted


The survey was conduced via text message with 552 adults who said they watched the speech on Tuesday. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. 

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