2-11-13 #1A plurality of the public (43%) views Barack Obama’s upcoming State of the Union as about as important as past years’ addresses. About a third (32%) say Obama’s speech will be more important than those in past years, while 15% say it will be less important.

Opinions about the importance of Obama’s State of the Union are little changed from last year or 2011. Last year, 46% expected the address to be about as important as those of past years; 36% said it would be more important and 14% said it would be less important.

These views also are in line with expectations for most of George W. Bush’s State of the Unions. The exceptions were 2002 and 2003, following the 9/11 attacks and before the Iraq war, when majorities viewed Bush’s State of the Union as more important. In 2008, when 2-11-13 #2Bush gave his final State of the Union, just 19% viewed it as more important.

As in past years, there are wide partisan differences in opinions about the importance of Obama’s State of the Union address. Far more Democrats (46%) than independents (28%) or Republicans (21%) say Obama’s speech this year will be important than those in prior years.