Story Highlights

  • 36% of watchers more confident in Trump after speech; 11% less confident
  • Almost six in 10 rated the speech as excellent or good
  • Speech watchers were disproportionately Republican

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday night had a positive effect on many of those who watched it or read news coverage about it later. Almost six in 10 of this group rated the address as excellent or good, and more than one in three said it made them more confident in Trump's abilities to carry out his duties as president.

Ratings of President Trump's Speech to Joint Session of Congress
Based on what you have heard or read, how would you rate Donald Trump's speech? Would you rate it as -- excellent, good, just OK, poor or terrible?
Excellent Good Just OK Poor Terrible No opinion
% % % % % %
2017 Mar 1 34 23 25 7 9 2
Asked of U.S. adults who watched speech or saw, read, or heard news coverage of the speech
Gallup, March 1, 2017

Impact of President Trump's Speech to Joint Session of Congress
Based on what you have heard or read about the speech, are you now more confident in Donald Trump's abilities to carry out his duties as president, less confident or has there been no change?
More confident Less confident No change
% % %
2017 Mar 1 36 11 53
Asked of U.S. adults who watched speech or saw, read, or heard news coverage of the speech
Gallup, March 1, 2017

These results are based on a sample of 504 Americans interviewed Wednesday, March 1. Forty-two percent said they watched Trump's speech live and another 30% saw, read or heard news coverage of the speech later.

The percentage of Americans who report watching Trump's speech live or reading news coverage of it after the fact is similar to what Gallup found after Barack Obama's first speech to Congress in February 2009. Nielsen television ratings for this year's speech showed 48 million viewers tuned in live for Trump's speech, slightly lower than the 52 million viewers for Obama's 2009 speech.

As is typically the case for these types of presidential addresses to Congress, those who watch are disproportionately likely to identify with the president's party. In this case, over half of those interviewed Wednesday night who watched or read news reports were Republicans. Looked at differently, 85% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they either watched live or read news reports about the speech, contrasted with 68% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Therefore, the positive reactions to Trump's address among speech watchers partly indicate Trump was successful in reaching out to and reinforcing his base. Trump's efforts to shift Democrats' views in a more positive direction, on the other hand, do not appear to have been successful. A scant 5% of Democrats said they became more confident in Trump's abilities as president after the speech, with 15% saying they are less confident and 80% saying it made no difference. By contrast, six in 10 Republicans said the speech made them more confident.

A larger number of Democrats who watched were lukewarm about the speech rather than negative. Forty-five percent of Democrats said it was "just OK," 34% rated it poor or terrible, and 21% gave it an excellent or good rating. Republicans, not unexpectedly, were mostly positive about Trump's speech, with 89% rating it excellent or good.

The Wednesday night survey also asked speech watchers and those who saw or read news reports of the speech if they support or oppose the proposals Trump made in his speech. Almost all Republicans said they support the proposals. The majority of Democrats said they oppose them, with 22% saying they support them.

Bottom Line

Trump received generally positive reviews from the press for his inaugural address to Congress, particularly for his tone and more presidential demeanor. Those who watched the speech seem to be in general agreement. Speech watchers skewed Republican, so to some degree this positive reaction reflects the friendly nature of Trump's audience.

Democrats who watched were not necessarily hostile in their reactions, but rather were most likely to say that the speech was just OK and that it made no difference in their views of Trump as president -- views that of course were strongly negative to begin with.

It's unusual for a single speech to make a major difference in how the public views a president. In this instance, news coverage the day after the speech was focused on reports of contact between Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russia before the election, underscoring how real-world events can overtake the immediate impact of speeches in the news cycle.

It's too early to know now if the speech will have a significant impact on Trump's approval ratings going forward, but the record to date suggests that it may take a lot to shift views of Trump in a major way. Gallup analysis shows that Americans' attitudes about Trump -- both pro and con -- are unusually strongly held, and Trump's job approval has been generally stable, with his weekly average ranging narrowly between 40% and 43% in the last four weeks.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Explore President Trump's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 1, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 504 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the total sample of 377 speech watchers, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.