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Poll: Bush wins converts among speech-watchers


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President Bush outlines his domestic and international agendas in the first State of the Union address of his second term.
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(CNN) -- President Bush's State of the Union address raised support for his policies on health care and Social Security among people who watched the speech, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Wednesday night.

The percentage of respondents who said the president's proposals in those areas will help the country rose 15 points from when the same question was asked of the same people in the two days before the speech.

In the post-speech sample, 70 percent of respondents said Bush's policies on health care were positive, while 66 percent approved of the president's plan for Social Security.

Bush showed almost as much improvement on Iraq, with 78 percent of respondents saying U.S. policy there is heading in the right direction, a 12 percentage point increase over pre-speech polling.

Overall, 77 percent of respondents said Bush is taking the country in the right direction after the speech compared to 67 percent beforehand.

The strong positives for the president's policies may in part be a reflection of the poll's sample. Of the 485 people surveyed, 52 percent identified themselves as Republicans, 25 percent as Democrats and 22 percent as independents.

The poll was done by telephone interviews and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Respondents still said Iraq was the most important issue facing the president and the nation in the coming year -- 30 percent, compared with 23 percent for terrorism.

Social Security was the top domestic issue, with 19 percent of respondents saying it should be the government's main focus.

Overall, Bush got very positive or positive reactions to his speech from 86 percent of respondents, his best numbers since the State of the Union address he gave January 29, 2002 -- just four-and-a-half months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 -- when 94 percent of those polled gave him positive marks.


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