President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress had many peculiarities, among them that it only attracted 26.9 million viewers, making it the lowest audience in 28 years, according to Nielsen data.
According to Reuters, the audience for this first Biden speech “fell nearly 44% below the television audience for Republican President Donald Trump’s first speech.” Former President Trump’s speech drew an estimated 47.7 million viewers on 11 networks.
Joe Biden’s speech last Wednesday was televised by the following networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, Newsmax, NewsNation and Newsy. ABC had the largest audience, with 4 million viewers.
It was followed by NBC (3.5 million), CBS (3.4 million), CNN (3.2 million), Fox News (2.9 million) and Fox News (1.6 million).
On the other hand, “Obama’s State of the Union addresses ranged from 31.3 million viewers in 2016 to 48 million in 2010. Former President George W. Bush’s television audience ranged from 37.5 million in 2008 to 62.1 million in 2003, while former President Bill Clinton’s audience reached a low of 31.5 million in 2000,” Forbes said.
Former President Clinton himself delivered the highest-rated speech in the last 28 years, reaching 66.9 million viewers for his 1993 speech.
Nielsen also picked up some viewers who chose to watch Biden’s speech via online streaming on their TV, but they do not reflect the entire Internet audience.
Two particularities of the Biden’s state of the union
Joe Biden’s speech not only had the particularity of having the lowest audience in 28 years, it was also pioneering in terms of the reduction of physical presence, as only 200 people attended -all invited congress members- when it is normal to have a capacity of 1,600.
In addition, Joe Biden became the first president in U.S. history to have two women behind him (Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) while appearing before Congress.
The most voted president, but not the most watched, or even the most popular
President Joe Biden broke voting records in the November election in large part because of the mail-in ballot, which was differential in the presidential race. However, those electoral records do not accompany his popularity rating.
According to a CNN poll, in his first 100 days in office, Biden’s approval rating is 53%. On the surface, this seems like a positive number, but compared to other presidents in history, he would be the second most unpopular president after his first 3 months and days in office.
Only his predecessor, Donald Trump, had a lower approval rating (44%). While other recent presidents such as Barack Obama (2009) and George W. Bush (2001) achieved 63 and 62% approval ratings after their first 100 days in office.
The data can be explained by the polarization that the United States is going through. According to CNN, 93 % of Democrats approve of Biden’s work as president, in contrast, only 7 % of Republicans rate the Democrat’s performance positively. Independents are divided: 51% approve of Biden’s work so far.
Meanwhile, a more conservative poll released by Rasmussen, indicates that “only 36% of voters say Biden’s first 100 days were a success.”
“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 36 % of Likely American Voters say Biden’s first 100 days in office have been a success. Forty-four percent say Biden’s first 100 days have been a failure, and 18 percent say it has been somewhere in between.”