Economy Leading Source of US Anger

October 22, 2010

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of all US adults are angry about the economy, according to a new BBC World News America/Harris Poll.

Economy Barely Beats Govt., Unemployment
When given a list of current issues that make some people angry, 63% of US adults said they are angry about the economy. This barely beat the 62% of respondents who said they are angry about the government in general and about unemployment.


Other things that majorities are very or somewhat angry about are taxes (58%), immigration (56%), education (51%) and big business (52%). Fewer people are angry about same sex and gay rights (33%), the environment and energy issues (47%) and foreign policy (48%).

Anger Grows with Age
Across the board, older Americans (those 55 and older) are angrier than their youngest counterparts (those 18-34). For example, seven in ten U.S. adults 55 and older are angry about the economy in general (71%), government in general (70% and unemployment), while just over half of those 18-34 are angry about these (55%, 56% and 52% respectively).

For almost every issue, the percentage of respondents saying they are angry increases through each age bracket, with adults 55 and older having the highest anger response rate. The only exceptions are government in general, education, and same-sex and LGBT rights and equality.

For the first two issues, the same percentage of respondents age 35-44 and 45-54 said they were angry (61% and 50%, respectively). In the case of same-sex/LGBT rights, respondents 18-34 had a slightly higher incidence of anger (33%) than respondents 35-44 (29%) or 45-54 (30%).

Conservatives Generally Angrier
On most of these topics, supporters of the Tea Party movement are angrier than any of the other groups we looked at. And Republicans in general, who include many Tea Party supporters, are angrier than Democrats about most topics.

Fully 79% of Tea Party supporters are very or somewhat angry about the economy, compared to 71% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats. And 83% of Tea Party supporters are angry about the government, compared to 74% of Republicans and 54% of Democrats.

However, there are a few exceptions to this pattern. Democrats (62%) are more likely than Republicans (40%) or Tea Party supporters (46%) to be very or somewhat angry with big business. Democrats (46%) and Republicans (45%) are equally angry about the environment and energy issues and only slightly less angry than Tea Party supporters (52%).

Oldest Consumers Most Pessimistic about Household Finances
Overall, results of another recent Harris Poll show that consumers in general do not expect dramatic change to their household’s financial condition in the next six months. Twenty-two percent of consumers think it will get better and 28% think it will get worse, with 50% thinking it will remain the same.

However, matures (age 65 and older) demonstrate substantially more economic pessimism than any other age bracket. Only 8% of matures expect their household’s financial condition to get better and 42% expect it to get worse, with 49% expecting it to stay the same. Less than 0.5% expect it to get much better, while 8% expect it to get much worse.

In contrast, the most optimistic age group, Echo Boomers (age 18-33), differ less dramatically from the norm, with 28% expecting their household’s financial condition to get better, 53% to remain the same, and 19% to get worse. Most Echo Boomers anticipating change also only expect a little change in either direction.

About the Data: This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between October 7 and 11, 2010 among 2,699 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


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