I Don’t Understand This

From CBS News:

Eighty percent of speech watchers approve of President Obama’s plans for dealing with the economic crisis. Before the speech, 63 percent approved.

Fifty-one percent of speech watchers think the president’s economic plans will help them personally. Thirty-six thought so before the speech.

I have mixed emotions about President Obama’s economic policies, and I had mixed emotions about President Bush’s. My point is that this isn’t about criticizing or supporting the policies.

President Obama gives a good speech. In this case there was even some content in the speech. But it wasn’t an explanation of his policies. It didn’t tell us anything new about why such policies were necessary, or why they would help particular people. I listened to the whole thing and was impressed, but it didn’t convince me of anything I didn’t already believe and I don’t see what element in the speech would be expected to change my mind.

So what in the speech would change enough minds to cause a 17 point jump in the percentage who approve of the president’s handling of the economy? What produced a 15 point jump in those who think the plans will benefit them personally? Presumably those numbers will drop with time, but those are still some rather hefty gains.

I truly don’t see how this works.

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  1. I suspect they’re thinking “Finally someone who sounds intelligent is in charge, so maybe we’re not all doomed.”

  2. People are hungry for someone to trust, and Obama is intelligent, passionate and when he speaks, you WANT to believe in what he says. That alone would give a spike.

  3. I think polls of this sort are like Rorschach tests; they reveal a point in time opinion that is perhaps 1/1000th of a thinking person’s process of evaluation.

    President Obama is a very good communicator, and the speech was very well written, so the immediate favorable rating makes sense. As you indicate, the favorable rating will rise and fall as people evaluate the details.

  4. I see the consensus is simply the quality of the speech and speech making. I guess I would have to say that I’m so much less impressed with the quality of a speech in terms of making up my mind. I often rate a speech highly on points while disagreeing totally with its content. I must be a minority!

  5. I think Tom’s right. The president speaks clearly and coherently — that goes a long way to inspiring confidence.

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