Overall, 55% of the 31.3 million people who tuned in to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday night felt positively about his remarks. This majority approval may be artificially high, however, because more Democrats watched or followed the speech than Republicans. These results are according to a NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll conducted online from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14 of 3,782 adults.
Perhaps following the lead of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz—who boycotted the speech— only 26% of those who watched the speech live identify as Republican, while 45% identified as Democrat and 28% identified as independent. The president’s last State of the Union address brought in far fewer viewers than his first State of the Union, which had 52.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen estimates – a trend that has been experienced by other two-term presidents.
When looking at the ratings by party, 55% of Democrats who watched or followed were enthusiastic, and another 38% were satisfied with Obama’s remarks. Just 5% were unsatisfied or angry. In contrast, 84% of Republicans reported being angry or dissatisfied following the speech.
Obama’s annual report to the nation was received more positively among younger Americans, who tend to identify as Democrat. Among those 18-24, 73% were enthusiastic or satisfied with his speech, but only 52% of those over the age of 65 felt similarly.
Women were also more likely to express enthusiasm than men—31% to 20%. This is not surprising given there is a gender gap between the parties, with women generally outnumbering men in the Democratic Party.
Generational differences are evident in both parties, but especially among Republicans. Republicans overall were more negative on the president’s speech, in which he laid out the case that the country has changed for the better under his tenure and expressed frustration at the growing partisanship in Washington and across the country. But younger Republicans were much less intense in their disapproval than older Republicans. While 43% of Republicans over 65 were angry, only 30% of Republicans under 35 were also angry. Nearly 3 in 10 young Republicans under 35 actually expressed positive reactions to Obama’s address.
A majority of Democrats under 35 as well as Democrats over 65 were enthusiastic. Those between 35 and 55 years old were less approving, but still expressed overall satisfaction with the remarks.
Allison Kopicki, Josh Clinton and Sam Petulla contributed to this article.
This NBCNews|SurveyMonkey poll was conducted online from January 12-14, 2016 among a national sample of 3,782 adults aged 18 and over. For full results and methodology, please click here.