Anger Can Be Power

These are extraordinary times. The depth and strength of voters’ conviction that their opponents are determined to destroy their way of life has rarely been matched, perhaps only by the mood of the South in the years leading up to the Civil War. …

Animosity towards the federal government has been intensifying at a stunning rate. In a survey released on Sept. 23, Gallup found that the percentage of Republicans saying the federal government has too much power — 81 percent — had reached a record-setting level.

The movement to the right on the part of the Republican electorate can be seen in Gallup surveys calculating that the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as conservative grew between 2002 and 2010 by 10 percentage points, from 62 to 72 percent. During the same period, the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as moderates fell from 31 to 23 percent. [cont.]

Tom Edsall (Columbia U.), New York Times