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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Monday, February 06, 2006

The News That Wasn't

Today I checked a few news sites to find out what happened to Bush's approval ratings, following the State of the Union Party. The first item I found (the top of a Google News search for "Bush Bounce") was this:
Switch Grass May Bounce Back As Player in New Energy Goals
by: Gary Wulf, Dow Jones Newswires

Central City, Neb. - Switch grass used to blanket the Eastern and Central U.S. from the Gulf Coast to Canada, providing a habitat for birds and food for deer, which would munch on the five-foot-tall perennial.

Cleared by pioneers to make room for food crops, switch grass was relegated to use as erosion control in low-quality land but may be making a comeback.

President Bush, during the State of the Union address, said the U.S. is "addicted" to oil and presented switch grass as part of a new energy initiative. [...]
Not that I spent a lot of time digging, but I actually did not find any results for any polls done after the speech. This seems odd. There is a website,, that lists Bush's recent approval ratings. There were surveys done in the following periods (all in 2006): 1/3-5; 1/4-8; two from 1/5-8; 1/6-8; 1/10-11; 1/9-12; 1/12-15; 1/20-22; 1/20-25; two from 1/22-25; 1/24-25; 1/23-26; 1/24-26; and 1/26-29. I don't know how often the site is updated, but as of this moment, it shows nothing covering the time after the speech.

Zogby International's website
already shows results for the Superbowl advertisements, but nothing for the post-SOTU results. And it appears as though Zogby is interested in the subject, judging by what they posted on January 30, 2006:
“This is going to be one of the most important speeches President Bush ever delivers,” said John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International, “because it’s going to be important for him to win back his own constituency. Right now, his numbers are very, very low. Support for the war in Iraq is low, support for his handling of the economy is low, and even support for his handling of the war on terrorism is not where it has traditionally been.”
So if Mr. Zogby thought that the SOTU would be "one of the most important speeches President Bush ever delivers,” then why are there no data to assess the effectiveness of the speech?

One thing I learned, was the the Republican National Committee did not expect a bounce:
RNC Says Don't Expect Bush Bounce
The RNC is playing down expectations for President Bush's State of the Union address tonight by sending around this analysis by pollster Matthew Dowd:

"In looking at poll movement before and after State of the Union addresses, the average over the last fifty years is actually a slight drop (-0.2%). President Bush’s average change is also a drop (-0.4%). Only one of his SOTU addresses showed positive movement (2005), which is likely attributed to the intervening events of the 2005 Inaugural and January 2005 Iraqi elections. Even the “Great Communicator” President Ronald Reagan’s average poll movement after State of the Union addresses was negative (-2.6%), and in fact Reagan only had one SOTU speech with positive poll movement!" [...]
(There is a similar article on the Gallup site, but you have to pay to read the whole thing. I won't bother linking to it. They also have a blurb about an "instant reaction" poll done right after the speech, but the abstract doesn't provide enough information to draw any conclusions, and they do not portray it as a scientific poll.)

Apparently, the White House did not get the memo about downplaying expectations:
Bush seeks State of the Union bounce
President 'upbeat,' set to focus on kitchen-table issues

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will attempt to revive his presidency with an "upbeat" State of the Union address that stresses kitchen-table issues such as energy and health care, according to his spokesman.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Tuesday night's speech will be "optimistic and confident," centering around four new proposals. [...]
Judging from the RNC memo, it sounds as though it is routine for polling agencies to assess the effect of a Presidential State of the Union Address. Yet, by now they've had a week to do so. Either they just did not do it this time, or they did it, and decided to withhold the results. In either case, I would wonder why. In order to be valid, the post-speech survey would have to be done immediately after the speech, or at least within a couple of days. So if no polls have been done by now, we'll never know whether there was a Bush Bounce, or not.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |


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