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Clarus Research Group Survey: Top Political Strategists React to Obama's Health Care Speech, Rate Effectiveness

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Immediately after President Obama's speech to a Joint Session of Congress last night, Clarus Research Group surveyed 44 of the nation's top political, legislative and communications strategists -- representing a broad array of expertise in politics, government, media consulting, lobbying, and public relations.

The Results:

  • "Democrats were very happy with the speech, but most reactions were short of wild enthusiasm," said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus. Democrats gave Obama an average rating of 8.0 on a 10-point scale.
  • "While Democrats thought it was a solid, effective - even great - speech, some expressed doubts about its long-term political effect," Faucheux said. "Some Democrats also said the speech was too late in coming."
  • "Republicans were predictably negative on the substance, but thought Obama's delivery was impressive," said Faucheux. Republicans gave Obama an average rating of 6.2.
  • Nonpartisans gave Obama an average rating of 7.2. "They thought the speech was more effective at accomplishing Obama's immediate legislative goal of passing health care reform than his long-term political goals, including re-election," Faucheux said.
  • Respondents from all three groups gave Obama high marks for presentation. Interestingly, Republicans gave Obama a rating in this category almost as high as did independents and even Democrats.

Selected comments from Republicans surveyed:

  • The speech was too short on details.
  • He's in love with his own oratory.
  • He was more effective early on when he showed determination to succeed.
  • Turning this into a moral imperative to fulfill Ted Kennedy's last breath insults the intelligence of a lot of voters.
  • Classic Obama in delivery, tone and effort to straddle the middle of the road.
  • Obfuscation rather than searching for real solutions, and his demonstration of bipartisan cooperation is nonexistent.
  • Good delivery, well written. But when the policy is wrong, it doesn't matter how good the rhetoric is.

Selected comments from Democrats surveyed:

  • This same speech would have been twice as effective if it had been given three months ago.
  • Great speech, but wanted to hear more of the moral/emotional pull up front.
  • A very reassuring speech, well delivered. Had it been the opening salvo in the health care debate months ago, the Republicans would now be on the defense.
  • Best speech to a Joint Session I've ever heard.
  • Too soft on the opposition's efforts to kill any reform.
  • Somewhere between Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.
  • Republicans acted like churlish adolescents. It is one thing to be in opposition, it is quite another to be rude and disrespectful.

Selected comments from Nonpartisans surveyed:

  • Solid performance, but too late. He lost control of the issue two months ago.
  • He needed to hit one out of the park tonight and he did just that.
  • He may not have changed the dynamic, but he set his markers effectively. He needs to take the issue away from both Pelosi and Republican hardliners.
  • Strong speech, but not a "game changer."
  • Will his rhetoric hold up when the details are ironed out?

Clarus Research Group is a nonpartisan, full-service survey research firm based in Washington, D.C. For more details on how experts rate Obama's speech, see this chart:


SOURCE Clarus Research Group
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