Many policies Biden raised in his State of the Union address are supported by bipartisan majorities

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
February 16, 2023, 12:55 PM GMT+0

New polling by the Economist and YouGov finds that 30% of Americans watched at least some of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last week, slightly fewer than reported watching at least part of his address last year (37%). As usual, people who identify with the president’s party are more likely to pay attention and watch, which helps explain why most who saw at least part of the speech were positive about it.

Among Americans overall, 35% say they had a positive reaction to the recent speech, slightly fewer than the 40% who said they did after last year's speech. Among people who watched at least some of each address, however, ratings are about as positive for this year's speech (60% positive) as they were for last year's (57% positive).

Several parts of the president’s agenda articulated in his speech are supported by large majorities:

  • 81% strongly or somewhat support imposing stricter limits on the amount of personal data collected by tech companies
  • 78% support the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which aims to prevent companies from overcharging consumers with hidden surcharges and fees
  • 73% support requiring the federal government and federal contractors to buy products made in the U.S. over foreign products
  • 69% support setting a $35 monthly cap on the price of insulin
  • 65% support requiring that corporations earning over $1 billion pay a 15% minimum tax on their profits

And all five of the policies polled are supported by majorities in each major party, though the proposal for a 15% minimum tax for big companies is much more popular among Democrats than among Republicans.

Our latest poll also finds that cutting Social Security and Medicare is opposed by 80% of Americans, including 84% of Republicans. But 72% of Democrats say Congressional Republicans want to do just that; 44% of Republicans believe Democrats would cut Social Security and Medicare.

Other policies highlighted in Biden's recent address have received support from more than 50% of Americans in earlier YouGov surveys that were conducted during his presidency:

  • 77% support offering tax credits for families with children
  • 76% support regulating the collection and use of children's personal data online
  • 74% support regulating online advertising targeted at children
  • 74% support expanding publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs
  • 73% support paying teachers more as a solution to teacher shortages
  • 72% favor investing in the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector
  • 70% support requiring employers to offer paid parental leave for all working parents
  • 69% support imposing stricter penalties on companies that engage in monopolistic practices in the tech industry
  • 68% support implementing a national broadband plan to expand internet access to underserved areas
  • 67% support creating red flag laws that allow a court to temporarily remove guns from people that are believed to pose a danger to themselves or others
  • 66% support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with prescription-drug manufacturers
  • 64% support appointing a special prosecutor for pandemic-related financial fraud
  • 60% favor providing a pathway to citizenship for "dreamers" who were brought to the U.S. as children
  • 59% favor banning police from using choke holds
  • 56% support banning semi-automatic weapons
  • 52% support the Inflation Reduction Act
  • 51% favor installing electric vehicle charging stations on the nation’s roadways
  • 51% favor making community college free for all Americans

There was at least one event surrounding the State of the Union address that many Americans may have found inappropriate: 60% of people overall, including 51% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats, say interruptions of a president’s State of the Union message are inappropriate in general.

Views differ when it comes to the highest-profile recent example: 53% of Republicans strongly or somewhat support Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene standing up during the address and calling Biden a “liar.” By comparison, 32% of Americans overall and 14% of Democrats support Greene's actions.

Approval of Greene's actions appears to be higher than approval 14 years ago of related actions by a different member of Congress. The question asked about Greene in our latest poll is similar to one asked by USA Today and Gallup in September 2009, just a few days after South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress. U.S. adults were 11 percentage points less likely to approve of Wilson's actions at the time than U.S. adult citizens are to approve of Greene's now (21% vs. 32%). This gap is 14 points among Republicans (39% vs. 53%) and 11 points among Democrats (3% vs. 14%).

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on February 11 - 14, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Drew Angerer)