These past presidents hold the record for the longest, shortest and most verbose SOTU speech.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is expected avoid rolling out flashy new initiatives in his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, offering instead an upbeat view of the nation’s state.

But the president still has a lot to cover as he seeks to counter pessimism and touts his party’s key pieces of legislation, all as the 2024 election looms.

So how long does the State of the Union address last — and what will Biden’s latest match be? His first annual speech in 2022 lasted one hour, one minute and 50 seconds. The shortest address by one of Biden’s predecessors was less than half as long, while the longest took nearly an hour and a half.

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Here are some comparisons from 1964 (the first full year of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency; he later delivered the first televised evening address of the SOTU) and further on The American Project of the Presidency at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Who gave the longest State of the Union address?

Bill Clinton holds the record for the longest SOTU speech in history—his address in 2000 lasted one hour, 28 minutes, and 49 seconds.

While George W. Bush and Barack Obama continued their SOTU speeches for approximately 50 minutes and one hour, respectively, Donald Trump came close to the record. His performance at SOTU 2019 lasted one hour, 22 minutes, 25 seconds, and his average length was only about two minutes shorter.

In fact, Clinton and Trump hold the longest seven modern SOTU addresses in history. Clinton ranks 1-2, 5, and 7, while Trump ranks 3-4 and 6.

At about one hour, one minute and 50 seconds, Biden’s first SOTU speech was more in line with Obama’s average than either Trump’s or Clinton’s.

Another former president holds the record for the longest written SOTU speech: Jimmy Carter of 33,667 words in 1981. Carter, whose SOTU speaking addresses averaged about 37 minutes and 3,750 words, opted for only the written version that year instead of the prime-time televised address that had become the standard.

Who gave the shortest State of the Union address?

By minutes, Richard Nixon’s 1972 speech is the shortest SOTU speech recorded by the American Presidential Project at 28 minutes and 55 seconds.

In terms of written versions, George Washington had the shortest annual address to Congress at just 1,089 words. The rest of his SOTU appearances were longer, but not by much; his longest was less than 3,000 words.

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