Americans Feeling Less Alienated Since Obama's Election
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Americans Feeling Less Alienated Since Obama's Election

The American public is feeling less alienated from those in power, following the election last year of President Barack Obama. That’s according to The Harris Poll, which has been measuring the level of alienation in the United States since 1966.

Paul Holmes

The American public is feeling less alienated from those in power, following the election last year of President Barack Obama. That’s according to The Harris Poll, which has been measuring the level of alienation in the United States since 1966, tracking public feelings about the rich and powerful, including their feelings about elections and the president. 

 

Based on the public's answers to five questions, Harris computes the Harris Alienation Index. The higher the number, the more people are alienated, meaning that they feel unable to influence people with political and economic power and feel left out of things around them.

 

The relatively lower level of alienation this year is probably a result of the 2008 elections and, for Democrats and African Americans, the replacement of President Bush by President Obama. While Republicans are more alienated now (Alienation Index 56) than they were in 2008, they are much less alienated than Democrats were last year (69).

 

This time last year, the Harris Alienation Index stood at 58, the highest level of George W. Bush's presidency. This year it has dropped to 53, its lowest level since 2004. In the 37 years since 1972, there have only been four years (1978 and 2001 through 2003) when the Alienation Index was lower than it is now. 

 

\The main reason that fewer people are alienated today is that there has been a drop in the number of adults who feel that "the people running the country don't really care what happens to you," down nine points from 62 percent to 53 percent and that "You’re left out of things going on around you," down six points from 41 percent to 35 percent.

 

In addition, there was an 11-point drop, from 83 percent to 72 percent, in those who feel that "the people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country."

 

Last year the highest levels of alienation were among African Americans (71) and Democrats (69).  This year no demographic group analyzed has an Alienation Index higher than 60.

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