State of the Union Address 2013: Who Won – Obama or Rubio?

It was a wild news night last night. You could see it in CNN’s coverage of the State of the Union address. The SOU was almost overshadowed by the events surrounding the frenzied culmination of the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the ex-Los Angeles police officer carrying out a vendetta against his police brethren. I half anticipated a split screen – the SOU on the left and manhunt on the right during the remainder of the evening. The speech itself covered a range of topics with very few new ideas but clearly set the stage for Obama’s second term. Throw on top of this Marco Rubio’s moment of thirst that may well become the first viral moment of an SOU event and you have a very full evening. So what did we learn?

cnn-orc pollLet’s start with reaction to the speech. Our CNN|ORC International Poll showed that more than three fourths (77%) of those who watched the speech had a positive reaction, more than half of which (53%) had a very positive reaction. By almost a 3:1 margin (71% to 26%), poll watchers said they thought the policies proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction, still well below the 88% of speech watchers who said this after Obama’s address in February of 2009.

These results parallel  ORC International’s analysis of commentary across the universe of web space. Web chatter was very active with Twitter reporting (Twitter Pic of Volume) peak tweeting volumes during this year’s address were double those of his 2012 address.  In all, Twitter reported 1.36 million tweets from the President’s entrance to the conclusion of the Republican response (9:10 pm to 10:44 pm).  SOTU sentiment chartIn our analysis we found that, across the web, sentiment was largely favorable with 57% showing a positive sentiment. Interestingly, the 40% of commentary showing a negative sentiment roughly parallels the findings of last night’s CNN|ORC International Poll concerning speech watchers’ beliefs that President Obama’s plans will not succeed in improving the economy (31%), reducing the federal deficit (39%), creating or saving millions of jobs (33%) and reforming the country’s tax code (34%).

Marco RubioBut what about Marco Rubio? And what a bonanza for Poland Spring which finally jumped on the band wagon this morning with a FB post in what some are calling “water bottle-gate.” (Poland Spring Facebook Post) Well, let’s face it, for a 2016 possible Presidential contender he did well. He showed he was human (we all get thirsty) and has a sense of humor (Rubio Twitter Post). On this one, it doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with his politics. He got the response right.  How do we know?  Again, our analysis of sentiment in the web sphere shows a 62% positive sentiment analysis around his “moment of thirst.”  Positive words associated with posts on the subject included “great,” “support,” “hilarious” and “funny.” In any event, a moment that will be hard to duplicate but I’m sure often repeated on the The Daily Show and SNL in the weeks to come.

Our CNN|ORC International Poll was conducted by landline and cell phone among 393 adult Americans who watched the presidential speech on February 12th.   The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points.  In the poll, 17% of the respondents who participated identified themselves as Republicans, 44% as Democrats and 36% as Independents.

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Categories: Politics, Social Listening


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