American voters are angry – that is a good thing for voter turnout, bad thing for democracy

Regardless of whether they live in a red state or a blue state, identify as Democrats or Republicans, or claim to be ideologically liberal or conservative, Americans have one thing in common.

They are angry – especially about this year’s midterm elections.

Americans’ anger is driven by contemporary political events.

Republicans are enraged by troubling economic indicators and perceived spikes in crime. Democrats, meanwhile, are angry about the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned abortion rights enshrined by Roe v. Wade.

Politicians on both the left and the right are eager to capitalize on this anger. In fact, Democratic and Republican politicians alike deliberately and repeatedly seek to elicit voters’ anger. And, predictably, this anger leaves voters in a sour mood.

Recent polls reflect this reality.

Whipped into an emotional frenzy, Americans are likely to believe that things in the country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. So, too, do Americans believe that their preferred political party loses more often than not in legislative disputes.

Why, then, do politicians provoke anger if this emotional state leads to such pessimism? As a scholar who studies American politics and the author of “American Rage: How Anger Shapes Our Politics,” I believe the reason for this is quite simple: Anger provides ample benefits to those politicians who are able to use it most skillfully.

Angry voters, loyal voters

To begin, anger encourages Americans to vote.

Across a range of political settings, angry people are more likely to participate than those who are not angry. With elections increasingly being determined by which side can best motivate its base into showing up to vote, anger has become a powerful tool in a politician’s arsenal.