It’s the lowest net positive rating for a State of the Union address since at least 1998, when CNN first asked the question. There is no equivalent poll for addresses before 1998.
Some important caveats: This survey reflects the views of only those who watched the speech, not of all Americans. The poll was conducted among a group of Americans who said in prior interviews that they planned to watch the speech and were willing to be contacted after its conclusion.
People who choose to watch a political speech tend to be more supportive of the speaker than the general population; this sample was about 7 points more Republican than the entire American population.
A narrow majority of viewers, 54%, says it thinks Trump has the right priorities, down from 63% from a similar poll after his speech last year to a joint session of Congress. Not quite half, 45%, say he hasn’t paid attention to the country’s most important problems.
Still, more than 6 in 10 viewers, 62%, say they think his policies will move the country in the right direction. But more than 4 in 10 people who watched the address say they are not confident in his abilities to carry out his duties as President.
Only 56% of viewers say they think his policies are headed in the right direction on immigration — down 6 points since his 2017 speech. His proposals on other issues are higher: Roughly 8 in 10 people who viewed Trump’s address say he has the right direction on infrastructure and 7 in 10 say he’s going the right direction on the economy.
A majority of Americans who watched Trump’s speech to Congress last year, 57%, said they had a very positive reaction. Two-thirds or more said Trump had the right priorities for the nation, his policies were headed the right direction and the speech made them feel more optimistic.
Only 48% of viewers had a very positive view of Obama’s first State of the Union address, though a larger portion had a somewhat positive reaction, giving him a net positive score of 78% in 2010. He also did better during his first address to Congress, just after being inaugurated in 2009. Then, 68% said they had a very positive view of his address.