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Forum Post: FINALLY - Who We Are - poll shows movement beliefs and background

Posted 3 years ago on Oct. 18, 2011, 7:57 p.m. EST by ChicagoRocks (24) from Morton Grove, IL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Must be a balanced report ... from a progressive pollster.

By DOUGLAS SCHOEN President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making a critical error in embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement—and it may cost them the 2012 election.

Last week, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said that "the protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America. . . . People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules." Nancy Pelosi and others have echoed the message.

Yet the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.

The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).

An overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008. Now 51% disapprove of the president while 44% approve, and only 48% say they will vote to re-elect him in 2012, while at least a quarter won't vote.

Fewer than one in three (32%) call themselves Democrats, while roughly the same proportion (33%) say they aren't represented by any political party.

What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.

Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).

Thus Occupy Wall Street is a group of engaged progressives who are disillusioned with the capitalist system and have a distinct activist orientation. Among the general public, by contrast, 41% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 36% as moderate, and only 21% as liberal. That's why the Obama-Pelosi embrace of the movement could prove catastrophic for their party.

In 1970, aligning too closely with the antiwar movement hurt Democrats in the midterm election, when many middle-class and working-class Americans ended up supporting hawkish candidates who condemned student disruptions. While that 1970 election should have been a sweep against the first-term Nixon administration, it was instead one of only four midterm elections since 1938 when the president's party didn't lose seats.

With the Democratic Party on the defensive throughout the 1970 campaign, liberal Democrats were only able to win on Election Day by distancing themselves from the student protest movement. So Adlai Stevenson III pinned an American flag to his lapel, appointed Chicago Seven prosecutor Thomas Foran chairman of his Citizen's Committee, and emphasized "law and order"—a tactic then employed by Ted Kennedy, who denounced the student protesters as "campus commandos" who must be repudiated, "especially by those who may share their goals."

Mr. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond," forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield.

The Wall Street Journal, Oct 18, 2011

21 Comments

21 Comments


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[-] 2 points by MyHeartSpits (448) 3 years ago

LOL, Wall Street Journal. Nuff said.

[-] 1 points by an0n (764) 3 years ago

Yep.

[-] 2 points by TLydon007 (1278) 3 years ago

Thanks for posting trash from a Fox News analyst that had already called the protesters communists within the first few days.

[-] 0 points by ChicagoRocks (24) from Morton Grove, IL 3 years ago

I thought we were Communists. Without a position statement, it is admittedly hard to tell. But the beliefs expressed by many here align well with the great Marx belief.

Why is it trash? Which part of the data do you think is fundamentally wrong? I'm talking about the polling data, not necessarily some indirect conclusions.

The poll data seems to correlated fairly well with what I've read here over the last week.

[-] 1 points by TLydon007 (1278) 3 years ago

By all means, go find me another poll taken by "Arielle Alter Confino" who, by the way, is "a senior researcher" in his firm. Schoen is best known for being grossly inaccurate in polls and always in favor of his own desired outcome. Also, there's not much more information involved as to how the poll was taken.

[-] 2 points by thebeastchasingitstail (1912) 3 years ago

1970 was a different time. In 1970, union workers opposed, and sometimes beat up, young protestors. Now they are marching alongside us.

[-] 1 points by TLydon007 (1278) 3 years ago

" In 1970, union workers opposed, and sometimes beat up, young protestors. "

Where did this happen??

[-] 1 points by thebeastchasingitstail (1912) 3 years ago

Actually, it once happened not far from where OWS is now. I'll try to find a reference. Some constructions workers broke up a group of kids who were commemorating Kent State.

[-] 1 points by TLydon007 (1278) 3 years ago

I found it..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Hat_Riot

And I also found who's to blame..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_J._Brennan

It seems like finding only 200 union construction workers(out of all union construction workers) to participate in such nonsense would be comparable to the amount of douchebags willing to do this out of the whole population..

Basically, I'm saying that union workers are probably no more (or less) opposed to what the protesters were fighting for compared to the general population.

[-] 1 points by thebeastchasingitstail (1912) 3 years ago

In the 60s some of the unions were also very pro-war. AFL CIO as the wiki article states.

The difference between the sixties and now I think is that in the 60s the "movement" was a whole counterculture movement. Not just looking for political change, but the whole "traditional values" of the culture were under attack by the "youth culture". SO a lot of conventional people (like union members) felt threatened by it.

The fear of "dirty hippies" back then was a lot more intense than it is now, now it is just a joke or something thrown out to insult the protestors back then a "hippie" was something to fear.

[-] 1 points by NielsH (212) 3 years ago

Typical hit job to separate OWS from general population, while when asked about individual issues, the majority agrees with the movement.

[-] 1 points by Socrates469bc (608) from New York, NY 3 years ago

The Wall St. J? That's a Rupert Murdoch paper. He has admitted to manipulating his publications to support his agenda:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K2pLo8JV5Y

[-] 1 points by GhostAD2008 (34) 3 years ago

"the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people"

Typical news article. No where does he define the values of the 'broad mass of the American people.' Because America is so diverse in culture, religion, and ethnicity, I could assume the 'broad mass of people' value radical Islam, promiscuity, or polygamy.

[-] 1 points by IsaacsLaughing (9) from Salt Lake City, UT 3 years ago

"….and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%)."

What? Is there any sense in this statement?

[-] 1 points by ChicagoRocks (24) from Morton Grove, IL 3 years ago

The statement shows that the unemployment rate among OWS'ers is approximately the same as the general population. Perhaps the only similarity.

[-] 1 points by unended (294) 3 years ago

Although this poll is terribly unscientific (and although the author states a mathematical falsehood), the author's conclusions are terrible. For example, he states that "President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making a critical error in embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement," yet observes that "[a]n overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008. Now 51% disapprove of the president while 44% approve, and only 48% say they will vote to re-elect him in 2012, while at least a quarter won't vote."

Those facts spell trouble for Democrats, and that's a good thing.

The pollster also states that "the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people," but observes, "Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%)." Those opinions, of course, are perfectly within the mainstream of American thought. They are out of the mainstream only of elite opinion, which is extremely right-wing and out of step with the American public at large.

Good news all around! You can almost smell the desperation among the elite.

[-] 1 points by IsaacsLaughing (9) from Salt Lake City, UT 3 years ago

How strange. Apparently, they didn't talk to individuals when writing this article.

[-] 1 points by ChicagoRocks (24) from Morton Grove, IL 3 years ago

Why do you say they didn't speak with individuals?

[-] 1 points by IsaacsLaughing (9) from Salt Lake City, UT 3 years ago

Although they say they polled 200 individuals, their conclusions do not reflect the diverse views of Occupiers. If they did indeed poll people, I suspect they did not invite individual perspectives and/or relied on leading questions.

[-] 0 points by MichaelMoosman (48) from Murray, UT 3 years ago

Excellent post. Thank you!