"We see it all over the country in tea parties and town halls. People are alarmed and angry about the spending, the debt, the government takeovers," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on ABC.
Obama's advisers say they understand people are frustrated.
"I think people are angry in this country -- they were angry in Massachusetts -- that we haven't made more progress on the economy," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on "FOX News Sunday."
"I think we have to stay focused on solving people's problems, and I think the politics will flow from there," Plouffe said in an interview with ABC News.
Obama has an opportunity to address that frustration in his State of the Union address this Wednesday evening, when he can speak directly to the American people.
"He'll be able to set forth his priorities, and they will be focusing on the middle class. Our middle class is struggling out there. they're frustrated, they're angry, they're working hard to try to make ends meet. They're having to make terrible choices between paying their rent and putting food on the table and paying for their health care and sending their kids to college. These are the same principles that the president advocated in the course of the campaign," Jarrett said, previewing the speech.
While the president may take a more populist tone Wednesday night, whether he will change course remains to be seen.
"I think the reason that you had the victories in Virginia and New Jersey and most improbably in Massachusetts of all places was the American people are saying, 'We want to go in a different direction.' I hope the president will get the message and change direction , and we'll begin to see that next Wednesday night," McConnell said.