NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans' sense of frustration impacted election results in a big way yesterday. Fully 80% of those living in the 10 largest cities in America believe that the "people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country," according to a new Harris poll. Ironically, even 71% of the people living in Washington D.C. agree with that statement. The disdain for political gridlock was apparent, as voters ousted incumbents across the nation.
But this feeling of alienation goes beyond politics. Surveying residents in the nation's largest metropolitan areas, Harris has developed an Alienation Index; the higher the number, the more people feel left out and powerless to influence what is going on around them. The 10-market average score was 58, but residents in Dallas/Fort Worth (65) and Philadelphia (63) feel the most isolated. On the opposite end of the spectrum, citizens in Boston (54) and New York (55) had below average scores and were the least alienated of the 10 cities surveyed.
Measuring specific attitudes, the survey found that 86% of San Franciscans agree with the statement that "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer," – the most of any city by a considerable margin. Such a feeling of economic polarization is a bit less significant in Houston and Chicago (72% each).
Texans, with their well-known independent attitude, are most likely to agree with the sentiment that "The people running the country don't really care what happens to you." Residents of Dallas/Fort Worth (88%) and Houston (82%) are most likely to feel abandoned by political leaders, as well as those living in Atlanta (82%) and Philadelphia (81%).
Not only do many Americans feel isolated and powerless, they also feel vulnerable. People in Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles (66% each) are most likely to agree with the statement that "Most people in power try to take advantage of people like you." New Yorkers are the least likely to feel that way (47%).
The idea that "What you think doesn't count very much anymore" rings true with residents in Dallas/Fort Worth (61%) as well as Philadelphia (59%). While the feeling of "being left out of things going on around you," is most common in Washington, D.C. (38%) – the home of the most-famous insiders on the planet -- and is a sentiment shared by those in Chicago (34%). Residents of Boston (19%) and Los Angeles (26%) feel the most connected.
--Hal M. Bundrick is a Certified Financial Planner and contributor to MainStreet. Follow him on Twitter: @HalMBundrick