Why Voters Will Stay Angry
By Andre Tartar, Andre Tartar, Mira Rojanasakul, Mira Rojanasakul, Jeremy Diamond Jeremy Diamond, and John Fraher John Fraher
March 22, 2016
From the supporters of Donald Trump to the street protesters of southern Europe, voters around the world are mad as hell. Inequality, immigration, and the establishment's perceived indifference are firing up electorates in a way that's rarely been seen before. As these charts show, the forces shaping the disruption of global politics have been building for years and aren't about to diminish.

The world's middle classes are getting poorer

  • The share of wealth owned by the middle class declined in every part of the world on a relative basis 1

  • U.S. workers' share of income has dropped to near the lowest since World War II 2

  • And in the past century, the rich have gotten markedly richer 3

  • Incomes in Europe's southern crisis countries have fallen since 2009, while rising elsewhere 4

Things are even worse for young people

  • In Spain and Greece, unemployment among those under 25 is still close to 40 percent despite a slight improvement in recent years 5

  • U.S. student debt is soaring, while median pay for recent college graduates has barely budged 6

  • Parents in major western countries are increasingly worried about their children's prospects 7

Immigration and war are compounding the anxiety

  • European countries are seeing unprecedented flows of refugees seeking asylum and have little power to stop them within the passport-free zone 8

  • As Syria's implosion sends millions of refugees toward the EU, more voters choose immigration as a top concern 9

  • Americans worry about immigration more than they did 14 years ago 10

All this is causing politics to fragment

  • Last year, only 19% of Americans trusted their government "just about always" or "most of the time" - down from 54% after the 9/11 attacks 11

  • As measured by historical voting in the U.S. House of Representatives, the two U.S. political parties have moved away from the center in the past 40 years 12

  • It's the same picture in Europe as distrust of government has surged, to a high of 84% in Spain 13

That's all helping insurgent parties storm the region's national parliaments

  • Political newcomers have gained far greater share in recent elections, and established parties in some cases have withered away 14

Asia is bucking the trend. So far

  • Asia has largely been exempt from the West's discontent, in part because incomes have risen so rapidly 15

  • But unrest can't be ruled out, especially as China's growth miracle recedes. Already workers' strikes are becoming more and more widespread 16

  • Upcoming elections with potential to cause more chaos:

  • U.S., November 2016 Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump in the latest average of polls on a head-to-head comparison* of the parties' front-runners. Yet that matchup is far from assured, as Republican power brokers are exploring ways to keep Trump from claiming the nomination at the party's convention in July and pushing his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, as the preferred alternative in the remaining state nominating contests.

    * RealClearPolitics national average of head-to-head polling between 2/11-3/6 shows Hillary Clinton with a 6.3 percentage point edge over Trump.

    Brexit, June 23, 2016 Polls*:
    36% stay
    36% leave
    28% don't know

    France, May 2017 First-round voting preference:
    27% National Front's Marine Le Pen
    22% President Francois Hollande
    21% Former president Nicolas Sarkozy

    * Ifop Dec. 2015 poll

    Germany, around summer 2017 While national polls show Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union far ahead of the second-biggest party, the Social Democrats, the insurgent Alternative for Germany could cause trouble. Support for the anti-immigrant party surged in recent regional elections.