State of the Union is ratings flop; fewest viewers since 2000

President Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union address had the fewest viewers of any since 2000 and failed to boost his approval rating.

According to data released by Nielsen on Thursday, nearly 33.5 million viewers tuned in to 16 different television networks for the address.

That’s the lowest since former President Bill Clinton’s final State of the Union pulled about 31.5 million in 2000. That address was only broadcast on seven channels.

Obama’s 2013 address had the second-smallest audience since Nielsen began tracking the audience size in 1993. Clinton’s 1993 address was the highest rated of all time, nearly doubling the most recent State of the Union address, with 66.9 million viewers.

The speech also did not give the president a bump in his approval rating, according to Gallup’s three-day rolling average.

Obama entered Tuesday with 52 percent saying they approved of the job he was doing, compared to 42 who disapproved. On Thursday, Obama’s approval was down to 51 percent positive and 42 percent negative, which still factors in one day of data sampled from before the speech.

Presidents rarely see a significant drop or spike in approval rating after the State of the Union address. Obama’s 2010 and 2011 speeches didn’t register any net change, though his approval increased by 2 percentage points following his 2012 address.

The largest moves in approval rating were by Clinton in 1998, when his jumped 10 points, and by George H.W. Bush in 1990, when his fell by 7.

Still, the president has sustained a positive approval rating since last September, which is his longest meaningful stretch above water since his first year in office.

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