Donald Trump improved his status in the Republican delegate race on Tuesday.
And as he has pressed forward on his path to the GOP nomination, one narrative has been near-constant: The American electorate has gotten angry, and Trump is their mode of expressing that anger. He is their anger, personified.
The problem is, even as Trump has played up the idea of the angry voter sticking it to the Republican establishment, the numbers don't suggest any substantial increase in Republican anger. In fact, Republican anger isn't that far off from where it was in 2012, when a decidedly non-angry candidate won the GOP nomination.
Exit pollsters this year are asking voters in every state whether they are angry about how government functions; but in 2012, they asked it in just four states.
The fourth of those four states voted Tuesday — Ohio — and showed a rather unremarkable two percentage point uptick in anger, from 36 percent of GOP primary voters saying in 2012 that they were angry to 38 percent in 2016.
There was also a modest anger uptick in an earlier primary state, Georgia. The anger quotient there in 2012 was 42 percent. This year? 46 percent. It ticked up slightly more in Tennessee, from 40 percent to 47 percent. Trump won both of these states handily, and maybe voters were slightly angrier.
Alas, in Mississippi — another state Trump dominated this year — anger actually ticked slightly down versus four years ago, from 42 percent to 40 percent.
And as we noted a while back, national Washington Post-ABC News polling conducted right before the voting began this year showed anger was actually down slightly from a high in 2014. But mostly, over the past few years, it's been flat.
Now, one thing we should make clear is that angry voters are voting for Trump -- by 19 points in Ohio, 18 in Tennessee, 20 in Georgia and 24 in Mississippi. Clearly, anger matters.
A second caveat is that perhaps people who are angry don't want to cop to it when exit pollsters ask them about it.
But to say that Trump has risen because voters suddenly became angry is to gloss over just how angry they were in 2012 and 2014. Which is just about as angry as they are today.