It's fair to question the lasting impact of State of the Union addresses, which tend to be unsurprising exercises in staid political tradition.
But they're also one of the few occasions upon which millions of Americans who aren't mired in the daily (or weekly) news cycle have direct and prolonged contact with the president, unfiltered and unclipped. The impression a president makes in their yearly State of the Union speech may only serve to confirm the perspectives of regular news consumers, but for other viewers it may be an opportunity for the president to change or create their perspectives.
For an infrequent news consumer in a Red state who heard, for instance, that President Obama was a secret socialist poised to tear apart the fabric of the country, the affable and warm personality he presented in his yearly addresses could have actually chipped away at that impression. For the infrequent or casual news consumer today, constantly told President Trump is erratic and presents an apocalyptic threat to the Republic, his traditional and patriotic performance on Tuesday could do the same.
According to a snap CBS News poll, 75 percent of viewers who tuned into Trump's speech approved of it. Viewership, according to the poll, was more heavily Republican (42 percent), but independents who tuned in "tended to approve of the speech, and said it made them feel proud," CBS reported.
None of this is to say Trump's stick-to-the-script, broadly patriotic speech swayed millions of undecided Americans in his favor. It's just a reminder that State of the Union speeches are unique opportunities, and viewed through a different lens by the many Americans who don't follow every development in the news cycle as closely as those of us in the media.