Democratic pollster Doug Schoen has conducted what he calls “the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.” The survey’s findings suggest that the protest movement that has “occupied” New York City’s Zucotti Park for a month and spread across the country is not only unrepresentative of “the 99%”, but is actually far outside of the mainstream of American public opinion.
Scribe noted a pair of polls yesterday showing that Americans, by and large, consider the federal government more to blame for the state of the economy than Wall Street. Schoen’s poll dovetails with those findings, which suggested that the “Occupy” protestors – who invariably reserve most of the blame for Wall Street – are out of step with the American electorate.
Schoen detailed his findings in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:
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…
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.
Schoen’s conclusion: the president and liberals in Congress should be wary of throwing their support behind these protestors, for fear of alienating the political center.
Rather than embracing huge new spending programs and tax increases, plus increasingly radical and potentially violent activists, the Democrats should instead build a bridge to the much more numerous independents and moderates in the center by opposing bailouts and broad-based tax increases.
Put simply, Democrats need to say they are with voters in the middle who want cooperation, conciliation and lower taxes. And they should work particularly hard to contrast their rhetoric with the extremes advocated by the Occupy Wall Street crowd.