Yesterday's big State of the Union speech was clearly an attempt to rebrand Donald Trump.

Historically bad polling suggests that Americans have largely made up their minds about the 45th President of the United States. His approval ratings up until yesterday's address were at historically low levels for a president this early in his term. Roughly a third of voters love him vehemently and see him as the anti-PC warrior bulldozing useless Washington institutions that have failed to help ordinary citizens. The rest are unconvinced by Trump's divisive brand of politics and weekly scandals fuelled by egomaniacal Twitter rants.

A Quinnipiac University Poll from December asked voters, "What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of President Trump?" The most common response was "idiot", followed by "liar" and "incompetent".

So, it's fair to say that the President has an image problem with the broader electorate.

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There is also a number Trump will not want to see: his first State of the Union address drew fewer television viewers than President Barack Obama's first such address, according to the ratings.

On broadcast, yesterday's coverage of the speech drew 7.1 million viewers on NBC, 7 million on CBS, 5.4 million on ABC, and 3.6 million on Fox for a combined 23.1 million viewers.

Fox News topped both its cable and broadcast competition by a wide margin with 11.5 million viewers tuning into the network's coverage of the speech. CNN was second with 3.1 million, with MSNBC drawing 2.7 million. That means that Trump's address drew 40.4 million viewers across broadcast and cable

Obama's first State of the Union in 2010 drew 48 million viewers across broadcast and cable, while his first address before a joint session of Congress in February 2009 drew 52.4 million viewers. That means that Trump trailed Obama's first State of the Union by approximately 16 per cent in total viewers.

The State of the Union was a clear opportunity for Trump to change negative perceptions, and his speechwriters opted to ease up on his boasting and turn the attention towards heroes in the audience.

Rebecca Holets looks up at her husband Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets after their introduction by President Trump as they stand with first lady Melania Trump. Photo / AP
Rebecca Holets looks up at her husband Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets after their introduction by President Trump as they stand with first lady Melania Trump. Photo / AP

There was the cop who adopted the child of an opioid-addicted mum, the marine who lost his sight and both legs when he stepped on a bomb while fighting in Iraq, and the 12-year-old boy who made it his mission to place flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. Heartwarming tales of sacrifice that viewers couldn't help but be touched by.

Trump kept his eyes on the teleprompter yesterday and wrapped up his 80-minute speech with a call for unity from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

"Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve," he said.

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While Republicans cheered, Democrats felt that the plea was a tad rich, given it was delivered by a man who makes a daily habit of beating up politicians on the Left as "obstructionists" and "losers".

Trump kept his eyes on the teleprompter yesterday and wrapped up his 80-minute speech with a call for unity from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

"Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve," he said.

While Republicans cheered, Democrats felt that the plea was a tad rich, given it was delivered by a man who makes a daily habit of beating up politicians on the Left as "obstructionists" and "losers".

Despite these difficulties, Trump has a good story to tell on a key policy area: the economy. He spent a large chunk of his address talking up the "new American moment" of tax cuts and business confidence.

US President Trump claps during his State of the Union address yesterday. Photo / AP
US President Trump claps during his State of the Union address yesterday. Photo / AP

"The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value … And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history," he said.

While the claim that the Trump tax reforms were the biggest in history is untrue, the cuts are still a welcome shot in the arm for the economy and are clearly boosting business confidence.

But it's here that we run into the big problem that Trump seems unable to fix: himself.

He has a good story to sell on the economy, but he has been unable to convince Americans that he's deserving of that praise. Half of respondents to an ABC-Washington Post poll said Obama deserved the credit for that.

Voters would like nothing more than to see politicians of the Left and Right work together for once, but does anyone truly believe that the gleefully divisive commander-in-chief is the one to bridge that divide?

He's a man who's spent his first year in office throwing bombs and relishing in driving the Left bonkers with his sledgehammer rhetoric on "s***hole" countries and blaming "both sides" for violence at the Charlottesville protest. It's hardly the language of a man who truly wants to scoop Washington up in a mass group hug.