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The state of the American electorate is angry. Really angry.
And it's something that gets agreement from both parties.
A deep dive into new numbers from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that nearly seven in 10 Americans agree with the statement that “I feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead."
And more than four in ten – 42 percent – say that statement describes their feelings “very well.”
In an electorate that is deeply divided by party, by race, by educational background and by income level, anger runs deep among almost every group. The statement about anger at the political system gets agreement from majorities of men (72 percent), women (67 percent), whites (69 percent), African Americans (68 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), college graduates (73 percent), non-college attendees (67 percent), those in the lowest income bracket (71 percent), and those in the highest income bracket (67 percent.)
And Democratic primary voters are MORE angry than their Republican counterparts. Fully 77 percent of Democratic primary voters express anger in the political system (42 percent say they’re “very” angry) compared to 63 percent of Republican primary voters (35 percent “very” angry.)
Among those making less than $30,000 annually, the anger is so intense that more than half – 52 percent – say the statement about anger at the political system describes their feelings “very well.”
When pollsters tested other statements about how voters feel about the direction of the country, they also found significant swathes of the electorate expressing pride, anxiety, optimism and unease – but the partisan differences were much more stark.
Asked, for example, to assess whether they feel “uneasy” about “our letting millions of immigrants into the country illegally, letting religion slip out of our public life, and moving to be more accepting of gay and lesbian rights,” 48 percent of Americans overall agreed. But that total only includes 25 percent of Democratic primary voters, versus 71 percent of Republican primary voters.
The partisan difference is almost as pronounced when voters are asked to assess this statement: “I feel proud that America continues to make progress as a tolerant nation that over the past generation made significant steps to protect the rights of African Americans, changed how we view the role of women, and today has moved to accept gay and lesbian marriage.”
Seventy-nine percent of Democratic primary voters agreed with the “proud” statement, while only 43 percent of Republican primary voters said the same. (Worth noting: There’s also an interesting racial divide on this question, with 75 percent of Hispanics agreeing, compared to 64 percent of whites and just 55 percent of African-Americans.)
But the most stark partisan difference relates to optimism about the American economy.
Respondents were asked to evaluate this statement: “I feel cautiously optimisticabout where things are headed. It is important to remember how bad the economy was just a few years ago. The economy is improving, more Americans now have health insurance and those with pre-existing conditions are covered, more jobs are being created, and things seem to gradually getting better.”
An overwhelming 89 percent of Democratic primary voters said that the statement describes their own feeling “very” or “fairly” well, while just 22 percent of Republican primary voters agreed.