Who’s upset over the economy? Everybody, everywhere

Tue Oct 12 2010


Anger: It’s the defining political emotion of this campaign season. It’s boiling across the country, much of it directed at President Obama and the congressional Democrats over the way they have handled the economy. Not far behind is dissatisfaction.


The combination, detected in a new ABC News/Yahoo! News poll, spells trouble for Democrats three weeks out from the election. Angry people, analysts say, go out and vote. Dissatisfied people tend to stay home.


With the recovery stalling, unemployment stuck at 9.6 percent and the housing crisis entering a dangerous new phase as bungled paperwork and outright fraud force a halt to foreclosures across the country, there’s plenty to get upset about.


The poll, a national, random-sample survey conducted by Langer Research Associates, shows just how deep the anger runs: A sky-high 25 percent of Americans say they are angry about the state of the economy — many more of them Republicans than Democrats, a key reason why the economy’s woes appear to be playing to the GOP’s favor.


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Dissatisfaction, which thus far has grabbed few headlines, runs sharply through an even larger swath of the electorate, but it holds just as much peril for the Democrats struggling to hold onto control of Congress and many statewide offices. Fully another 60 percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the economy — and many of them are Democrats.


So just who is angry? And who is dissatisfied? And where are they?


The short answer: pretty much everyone and everywhere. The real story underlying this election may be how uniform and broadly felt the unhappiness is.

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“The president can talk about the economy recovering, but no one believes him,” says Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. While many analysts have compared this year with 1994, when an unhappy electorate sent many Democratic incumbents packing and handed control of the House to the GOP for the first time in 40 years, Sheinkopf  points out the shift then was mostly fueled by “angry white men.” This time, “it’s angry everybody.”


Lane McCammon, 54, a retired engineer now living in Stallings, N.C., undoubtedly speaks for many as he ticks off the reasons for his ire.


“Unemployment just kept going up and up and up. … The stimulus has been an absolute disaster. Cash for clunkers — people took the money and bought foreign-made cars,” McCammon laughs in obvious disgust. “This has been a pathetic Congress. … They are spending money like drunken sailors.”

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“I’m very angry. My wife is angry. We’re an angry household here,” adds McCammon, who voted for McCain and thinks Obama doesn’t have a chance of being re-elected in 2012.


It’s often the case that political trends are felt more strongly in one region or demographic group than another. With anger coursing much more deeply through GOP veins than Democratic ones, for example, analyst Greg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group says he’d expect it to be “a bigger factor in Republican-leaning regions like the South.”


This year, however, that isn’t holding true.


From California’s craggy coastline to the wide-open Plains states to the small towns that dot the South, a remarkably consistent 26 percent to 27 percent describe themselves as angry over the economy. While the anger meter drops slightly, to 20 percent, in the traditionally more moderate, Democratic leaning Northeast, the difference isn’t statistically significant.


The story is much the same when other results from the ABC News/Yahoo! News poll are examined.


Break the country down by income, and in every category roughly a quarter of the respondents report they are angry: from the 24 percent of those getting by on less than $25,000 to the 26 percent of those pulling in more than $100,000.


Dissatisfaction is amazingly uniform across a range of paychecks, too. Some 58 percent of those making between $50,000 and $75,000 reported being dissatisfied with the economy — hardly different from the 61 percent and 60 percent dissatisfaction rates reported among the lowest and highest income levels, respectively.


Source: Yahoo News

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