Republican pollster Frank Luntz weighed in on the performance and effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address, saying it “exceeded” his expectations.
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“I was invited to come watch the speech from the gallery. Several members of Congress offered me tickets, and I turned them down. Because I frankly did not have particularly high expectations. I thought it was going to be a traditionally partisan speech. I’ve had enough of that,” Luntz, who is joining the ABC News team as a contributor, told chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and political director Rick Klein on “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
Lawmakers on both sides react to Trump’s State of the Union speech
Luntz had shared his doubts and criticisms of the speech via Twitter before the speech was given, but he’s now singing a totally different tune.
“I thought his performance so exceeded my expectations that I quite frankly apologized for some of the negative comments I’ve made,” he said.
Luntz said his criticisms of the Trump administration stem from its tones, not its policies. He pointed to the many examples of what he said was a Trump tweet overshadowing a winning speech.
Those pesky presidential tweets often eclipse his accomplishments, Luntz said.
Luntz also commented on the upcoming midterm elections with a dire warning for Republicans. “The GOP is in significant trouble. And if the elections were held today, I do believe they would lose the House and probably the Senate,” he said.
But the Republican pollster said one factor could make a difference. “If the economy is as strong 10 months from now as it is today, it will make it much more difficult for the Democrats to win the seats that they need to take control of the House,” he said. “That is the one trump card that the president has.”
Speaking of Congress, Democratic lawmakers made it clear how they felt at the State of the Union. “Democrats were not touched by that speech in the chamber,” said Karl, who was also inside the chamber during the address.
Even when Trump made positive bipartisan remarks, most of the Democrats were miserly with their applause, especially Minority House Leader, Nancy Pelosi.
Luntz agreed. “I was very frustrated with Democrats who sat on their hands when they were talking about the gains in employment, the gains in paychecks.”
Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSenator Bernie Sanders, center, watches President Trump during the State of the Union address, January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.