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Poll finds a positive reaction to Obama's State of the Union speech

A USA Today/Gallup poll says 65% of those who watched the State of Union speech or saw news reports about it said they had a favorable reaction, while 28% said they had a negative reaction. But the survey also finds more support for the Republicans' spending outline than Obama's.

January 27, 2011|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Most Americans said they had a positive reaction to President Obama's State of the Union speech, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, posted Thursday on the newspaper's website.

Yet the poll was not all good news for the president. More Americans said they supported the Republican call to cut spending than Obama's proposed five-year freeze on discretionary domestic spending at current levels. A majority of Americans also threw cold water on whether there will be a political thaw after Republican and Democratic lawmakers crossed the aisle to sit with each other during the president's speech.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was taken Wednesday and surveyed 1,004 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A third of those polled said they had watched the State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, while an additional 28% said they had seen news reports about it. Of those groups, 65% said they had a positive reaction and 28% said they had a negative one.

One of the president's major points was his call for a five-year freeze on discretionary domestic spending at current levels, a move designed to save $400 billion over a decade. According to the poll, 39% of those surveyed said they favored that approach, but 41% said they would prefer the Republican plan to cut spending back to the levels of two years ago when Obama took office.

Obama will present his budget in February, and the spending issue likely will dominate the political world thereafter. Republicans have said they will oppose any increase in the federal debt limit beyond the current $14.3 trillion unless there are spending cuts. The limit expires March 31.

With political civility having become a major issue, lawmakers intermingled, with Democrats and Republicans cheek by jowl rather than separated by party, as is the custom for the president's speech. By 50% to 44%, Americans said the new seating arrangement was not a sign that the parties will be better able to work together.

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