No Bounce

Three days have now passed since President Obama’s State of the Union speech, which means that Scott Rasmussen’s Presidential Approval Index, which is based on a three-day rolling cycle, is now entirely post-SOTU. Thus, if Obama were to get a bounce from his speech, it should show up by now. And it hasn’t:
obama_approval_index_january_29_2011.jpg
As of today, Obama’s overall approval rests at 49/49. Just before the SOTU, Obama’s numbers were a little better: an Approval Index of -5, and an overall approval rating of 52 percent. His numbers generally have been improving of late, and that trend could resume, but not because of anything that happened Tuesday night.
This is particularly interesting because Obama’s 2010 SOTU gave him the biggest one-time bounce of his administration so far–bigger than the passage of Obamacare. You can see the spike on the above chart. The bounce didn’t last long, but it was very distinct.
This year that didn’t happen. Why? Probably not because there was anything particularly wrong with the speech; I didn’t do any systematic review, but I believe focus groups and polls suggested that listeners generally liked it. Rather, I think the problem was that the SOTU was no different from many other speeches Obama has given, including last year’s SOTU; and, more important, voters have seen enough of the Obama administration that they are no longer swayed by a speech. It will take actions, not words, to impress them at this point.
If the latter inference is correct, it may mean trouble for Obama and the Democrats. Their strategy until now has generally been “more cowbell,” based on the belief that Obama can turn the tide of public opinion by giving speeches. This year’s data suggest that the cowbell era may be over.

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