By the numbers: Obama's final State of the Union
Posted January 13
Washington — President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address Tuesday evening, focusing on the economy and national security. He also dedicated a chunk of time to the election process, using his trademark soaring rhetoric to talk about transcending partisanship and the importance of voting.
According to data collected by the InsideGov team, Obama spoke about the economy for approximately nine minutes, or about 15 percent of the total speech.
He dedicated a little over six minutes to campaign finance reform and the intricacies and responsibilities of citizenship.
In many ways, this speech was vintage Obama — a rousing, uplifting soliloquy that focused on accomplishments but called out applause-ready suggestions, like affordable college tuition and hiring more teachers.
He seemed comfortable returning to his motivator-in-chief role, delivering his comments in a particularly self-assured tone and with confident, relaxed body language.
But boos were audible once during the address. When Obama dove into national security and said talk of U.S. enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker was “political hot air,” he got a bit of pushback from the joint session of Congress.
A chorus of boos rivaled the applause. But in the next breath, he scored bipartisan cheers when he described the U.S. as the “most powerful nation on Earth. Period.”
Overall, Obama received a little more than 13 minutes’ worth of clapping throughout the duration of his near hour-long address. Nearly a fourth of Obama’s time behind the lectern garnered applause.
At the beginning of his speech, Obama nodded toward the 2016 campaign that has dominated the political conversation in the last few months. He said he would keep this address shorter than previous ones, remarking: “I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.”
Obama spoke for a total of 58 minutes and 49 seconds on Tuesday night. That’s a few minutes shy of what he has averaged in his previous State of the Union speeches.
And even though Obama is often lauded for his oratory prowess, former President Bill Clinton actually averaged the longest State of the Union addresses since the 1960s.
As Obama indicated at the outset of his speech, this address didn’t provide any new policy proposals. Instead, Obama was in full-on legacy mode, starting a victory lap that will likely characterize his last year in office.