When relationships go bad, an early warning sign is that one side doesn't really hear what the other is saying. That's certainly the case today in the relationship between voters and America's Political Class.
Many in Washington, D.C. took comfort over the past year in polling data showing that fewer voters consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. Only 13% claim such a tie today, roughly half its peak in 2010. This was reassuring to those in power, suggesting voters were willing to let the politicians return to politics as usual.
But the panic returned to Washington this week following the defeat of 36-year incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in a Republican primary election.
The reality that the politicians missed is that declining membership in the Tea Party did not mean a decline in anger at the Political Class. That's because the Tea Party has always been strongest when it tapped into concerns that most Americans shared. In particular, the Tea Party highlighted the twin problems of continuous government spending growth and a self-serving Political Class out of touch with voters.
Today, only 33% are even somewhat confident that their representative in Congress is looking out for the best interests of their constituents. Only eight percent (8%) are very confident.
Sixty-five percent (65%) are angry at the policies of the federal government, but few see anybody in Washington willing to take on the status quo.
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