Americans are mad as hell. Results of a survey sponsored by Esquire and NBC News and published Sunday indicated half of the U.S. is angrier than it was last year. And the rage appears to transcend class, gender, race and sexual orientation.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled said they hear or read something in the news that makes them angry either “once a day” or “a few times a day.” That encompasses 73 percent of whites, 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.
Most respondents said they do not believe the American dream — the idea that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead — is alive today. Fifty-two percent said it “once held true but does not anymore,” 36 percent said it still holds true and 11 percent said it never did. African-Americans were slightly more likely than either whites or Hispanics to believe the dream lives on.
Among other indicators of an enraged population: Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they’re in a worse financial position than they thought they’d be when they were younger, while just 22 percent said they’re better than off than they once imagined they would be.
Almost three-quarters of those polled said the gap between the wealthy and everybody else is getting larger. In this group, 18 percent blamed Wall Street for the growing divide, 17 percent blamed “capitalism in general” and 17 percent pointed to “globalization and jobs going overseas.”
The survey also asked respondents for their reactions to a series of imaginary stories. Whites and Hispanics were more likely than blacks to be angry about a mock headline about comedian Bill Cosby being “cleared of all charges.” Meanwhile, African-Americans were more likely than whites and Hispanics to be enraged about a story involving a police shooting of an unarmed black man. And whites were more likely than blacks and Hispanics to be mad about a headline showing a surge in the Hispanic population.
The NBC News/SurveyMonkey/Esquire Online Poll was conducted Nov. 20-24, with a national sample of 3,257 adults ages 18 and over. Its margins of error ranged between 2.2 and 7.4 percentage points, depending on the grouping.