Harris Poll Alienation Index Climbs Again as Two-Thirds of Americans Feel Alienated

More than four in five Americans say people running the country don't care about them

Nov 12, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans have had a lot to deal with from Washington, D.C. There was the government shutdown, the threat that the country might default on its payments and the problems which have plagued the website for ACA, as well as partisan bickering over both the website and the health care law itself. All of this is likely contributing to a greater sense of alienation among the U.S. public, as reflected in the latest Harris Poll Alienation Index, which finds that the level of alienation among Americans has gone up 4 points since 2011 (the last time this was asked) and 15 points since 2010.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO)

Almost every year since 1966, the Harris Poll has measured how alienated Americans feel and then calculated the Harris Alienation Index based on the results.  The questions measure how much, or how little, people feel their interests are heard and addressed by people with power and influence.  This year the Harris Poll Alienation Index is at 67, compared to 63 in 2011, 52 the year before and 53 in 2009, during the first year of President Obama's administration. The last time the Alienation Index was in the 60s was during Bill Clinton's administration.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,368 adults surveyed online between October 16 and 21, 2013 by Harris Interactive. This is the first time this survey has been conducted solely online. (Full findings, including data table, available here)

The Index is based on replies to five questions, many of which show major changes since last year.

  • 85% believe that the people running the country don't really care what happens to you, compared to 73% in 2011 and 50% in 2010
  • 80% of all adults believe the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, compared to 73% in 2011;
  • 69% believe that most people in power try to take advantage of people like you compared to 63% two years ago and 53% in 2010;
  • 61% believe that what you think doesn't count very much anymore, down from 66% in 2011; and,
  • 38% believe that they are left out of things going on around them, compared to 41% in 2011.

In addition, nine in ten Americans (90%) feel that the people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country, compared to 87% in 2011 and 70% in 2010.  However, this question is not used in the calculation of the Alienation Index, because it was not asked before 1992.

Different Groups Feel Differently
As Congress's approval numbers hit a record low of 4% and President Obama sees his approval numbers also low, is there a political difference on alienation? Actually, this is something the political parties feel similarly on, as Republicans score a 65 and Democrats score a 66 in the Alienation Index; Independents score a 68. When it comes to generation, the middle ages feel most alienated, with both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers scoring a 69 on the Index, compared to a 65 for Echo Boomers and a 62 for Matures.

There is also an education gap, as those with a high school education or less are most likely to feel alienated (71) compared to scores of 60 among those with a college degree and 58 among those with a post graduate degree.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 16 and 21, 2013 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). 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.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.


The Harris Poll® #81, November 12, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive

SOURCE Harris Interactive