Angry voters are everywhere. Watch any cable news chat show, read any political blog or peruse the pages of any major newspaper and you will be bombarded with headlines about how the American electorate is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. But is all the coverage right? Are voters more angry now than they were in, say, 2006 or 2008? And is anger the right emotion to describe what is clearly roiling an electorate that has thrown three House members, two senators and a governor out of office so far this year?
Yes and no, according to pollsters on both sides of the aisle. Describing voters as “angry” is both too narrow and too broad. Too narrow because there are a range of other emotions — anxiety, frustration, doubt — intermingling with the anger, and too broad in that the truly angry voters appear to be largely bunched on the Republican side.
Passion — whether it be anger, frustration or something else — is a valuable commodity in historically low-turnout midterm elections. The Republican base is, without question, ready to send a message to President Obama this fall. The central question is whether Democrats can find a way to match that intensity, rallying their base in advance of November.