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Feeling of Alienation Among Americans Reaches Highest Point On Record.

Nine in Ten Americans feel that the people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country

NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- This year's midterm elections brought a bitterly fought campaign across many states. Soon after these elections, The Harris Poll revisited a long-term trend looking at how alienated Americans feel. The results were far from promising. Americans feel more alienated than ever, as reflected in the latest Harris Poll Alienation Index, which began in 1966; the level of alienation among U.S. adults has increased 3 points since last year and 17 points since 2009, President Obama's first year in office.

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 70, compared to 67 in 2013, 63 in 2011, 52 in 2010 and 53 in 2009. The Alienation Index has never before reached the 70s.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,276 adults surveyed online between November 12 and 17, 2014. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

The Index is based on replies to five questions, which show some interesting differences, and also some similarities, to past years' data.

* 85% believe that the people running the country don't really care what happens to you, equivalent to last year and up from 73% in 2011;

* 81% of all adults believe the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, compared to 80% in 2013 and 73% in 2011;

* 71% believe that most people in power try to take advantage of people like you compared to 69% last year and 63% in 2011;

* 68% believe that what you think doesn't count very much anymore, up from 61% last year and 66% in 2011; and

* 42% believe that they are left out of things going on around them, compared to 38% in 2013 and 41% in 2011.

Furthermore, nearly nine in ten Americans (89%) feel that the people in Washington, D.C. are out of touch with the rest of the country, compared to 90% last year and 87% in 2011. However, this question is not used in the calculation of the Alienation Index because it was not asked before 1992.

Who's the most alienated of them all?

Some interesting differences exist between different demographic groups when considering just how alienated they feel. Those with a high school education or less feel more alienated than those with a college degree or a post-grad education. Perhaps speaking to a disappointment with the midterm election results, Democrats feel more alienated than Republicans, with Independents feeling more alienated than both parties. Additionally, those with a household income under $35,000 per year feel more alienated than individuals at all other household income levels.

Interestingly, no significant differences exist between different generations and their level of alienation. The same is true for men vs. women.

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

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Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,276 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll [sup.] #6, January 20, 2015 By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Press Contact: Corporate Communications The Harris Poll 212-539-9600 Press.TheHarrisPoll@Nielsen.com

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