Politics

Obama Acceptance Speech Gets High Marks From Public

Overall reaction to Denver convention is typical, but doesn’t match 1992

PRINCETON, NJ -- Fifty-eight percent of Americans give Barack Obama's speech a positive review, including 35% who describe it as "excellent." Both marks surpass those given to the 2000 and 2004 presidential candidates, with the excellent ratings for Obama's speech 10 percentage points higher than any other recent candidate has received.

These results are based on a one-night USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Aug. 29, the night following Obama's acceptance speech.

Obama is widely praised for his rhetorical skills, so perhaps his positive reviews are not surprising. His speech was rated more positively by Americans than Hillary Clinton's Tuesday night convention speech, which also was highly regarded by the public.

Democrats give Obama's speech rave reviews, with 62% saying it was an excellent speech and another 21% describing it as good. A majority of independents rate Obama's speech as either excellent (27%) or good (25%), but Republicans were less impressed (12% excellent and 25% good).

In addition to measuring reaction to Obama's speech, the poll attempted to assess the impact of the convention more broadly on the public. Forty-three percent of Americans say they are more likely to vote for Obama as a result of what they saw or read about the convention; 29% say they are less likely.

Those ratings are typical of what Gallup has measured for most conventions since 1984. The 1992 Democratic convention stands out above all others with 60% saying that convention made them more likely to vote for Bill Clinton. The 1988 Democratic convention that nominated Michael Dukakis also got above-average ratings.

Obama's speech produced record TV ratings. More generally, six in 10 Americans say they watched a "great deal" or "some" of the convention. That is similar to reports from the 2004 conventions, but higher than what Gallup found for prior conventions.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,016 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 29, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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