Jan 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy
Axios Vibes

Americans are angry — and think their leaders don't care

Illustration of hands pointing, checkmarks, ballot imagery, and unamused and angry emojis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans agree on at least one thing: A huge margin say their political leaders don't care about them, according to findings from the Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll.

Why it matters: This angry, irritated feeling cuts across all groups, without much hope for improvement with a potential Biden-Trump rematch looming in November.

Axios Vibe Check: 74% of Americans said they don't think their leaders care about them.

  • 😡 No single group reached 40% — whether broken down by race, party, gender, age, income or geographic region — on saying yes when asked whether they think leaders care about them or their loved ones.
  • 😒 43% said their lives are worse under the Biden administration, vs. 29% who said they're better and 28% who said unchanged.
  • Even Democrats are split on how they feel, with just 53% saying they're better off under President Biden.

Zoom in: "The vibe Americans are giving their political leaders is that they're pale, stale and frail. Most of the country does not see the people in charge as relatable, caring or connected to their lives in any genuine way," said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.

  • "This is especially true of younger Americans, who feel that most leaders have stayed on past their expiration date," Gerzema said.
  • If Biden (age 81) and Donald Trump (77) wind up facing off in November as expected, the matchup would pit the oldest presidential finalists in U.S. history.

By the numbers: The groups most likely to say leaders don't care also are some of those feeling like they're in the biggest financial funk, as Axios' Margaret Talev reported Thursday in the initial Axios Vibes story.

  • People falling behind financially (89%)
  • Renters (79%)
  • Republicans (84%)
  • Gen X and boomers (82%)
  • Women (78%)
Data: FRED, Census Bureau; Charts: Erin Davis/Axios
Data: FRED, Census Bureau; Charts: Erin Davis/Axios

The bottom line: This deep skepticism of politicians is popping up in a variety of polls.

  • More than 70% of respondents to a recent USA Today/The Harris Poll said politicians aren't trustworthy and that they care more about themselves than their constituents.

Methodology: The findings in this Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll are based on a nationally representative sample of 2,120 U.S. adults conducted online, Dec. 15-17, 2023.

  • The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the data for this population is accurate to within +/- 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.
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