Setting the Stage: Biden’s Approval

As we’re getting started, some context on Biden’s public approval might be helpful. Tonight’s State of the Union comes at a time when the Biden administration is under substantial pressure from low public approval. A newly released NPR poll finds a majority of Americans (56 percent) describing Biden’s first year in office as a “failure.” Partisanship undoubtedly colors that finding, as 80 percent of Democratic respondents described his first year as a “success” (compared to over 90 percent of Republican respondents who felt the opposite). But what’s probably most worrisome for Biden this evening is that roughly two-thirds of self-identified “Independents” indicated his first year has been a failure. This speech could offer an opportunity for Biden to try to win over of some those people who aren’t fully committed to attaching to the opposing party (Republicans) but who also aren’t pleased with his leadership so far. The problem is that many of those individuals who aren’t already strongly committed to a political party might not be watching his speech tonight. Recent research suggests one of the major “divides” among Americans is between those who are highly engaged and deeply invested in politics and a broader segment of the U.S. public consisting of people who don’t closely follow political news – or tune into presidential addresses such as this.    


  1. How effective are speeches at getting Congress to pay attention to issues the president discusses (and to produce legislation)?

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