On Tuesday night, President Obama will give his seventh and final State of the Union address. It's one of his last chances to outline his vision for the country and to offer his thoughts on what direction we should take in his final year in office.
If past experience is any guide, this speech will be Obama's least-watched, though lots of people will still tune in. (In recent years, the State of the Union address has been at about Grammy-levels of television interest.) But if past experience is any guide in another way, Obama's also not likely to change any minds about his job performance.
Gauging the extent to which people engage with the State of the Union can be tricky. The president's goal is usually to build interest and political capital towards his policy priorities, though the White House has announced that they will be doing something a little different this time around. (Maybe it will just be karaoke! We'll see.) Since there are so many things packed into the speech, it's can be hard to figure out if he's been successful in making his pitch.
We can gauge how much interest people take in him, though, using Gallup's weekly tracking polls. And for the most part, attitudes about President Obama haven't changed much between the week he gives his State of the Union address and the week following.
The biggest week-after improvement Obama saw was following his 2012 address, when conservative Democrats were suddenly 12 points more positive toward the president -- 11 points more positive than Americans on the whole. That year, Obama's speech was something of a first-term victory lap, preparing for his reelection fight. Perhaps he convinced Democrats who were wavering to come home? As we said, it's hard to say.
The biggest decline was among Republicans after his 2009 address to Congress. (Technically, this wasn't a State of the Union address, since he'd just been elected.) Obama plunged eight points with Republicans after that speech, part of the rapid descent of opinions of him on the right from which he never really recovered.
Usually, though, there hasn't been much change at all. To reinforce that point, we made an interactive that shows Obama's favorability during the month of each of his State of the Union addresses, as well as the change between the week of the speech and the week after. The story of Obama's approval has consistently been that Democrats love him, Republicans hate him and independents are the ones that move the needle. The odds are good that nothing Obama says -- or could say -- on Tuesday will change that dynamic.
Click demographic indicators to view where their approval of Obama stood and how it changed.