With the Occupy Wall Street movement growing in numbers and spreading across the country, social scientists are working on compiling the demographic data to find out who is participating in the protests and supporting them. The results are quite interesting.
Survey One: Visitors to Occupy Wall Street Website
The first survey, the results of which appear in an academic paper written by Héctor Codero-Guzmán, PhD, a sociology professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), used visitors to the Occupy Wall Street movement’s website (www.occupywallst.org) on October 5th as its sample size. The paper was published online on the Occupy Wall Street website on Wednesday.
Among other striking findings, Codero-Guzmán discovered that 70 percent of the survey’s 1,619 respondents identified as politically independent, far-and-away the vast majority, compared to 27.3% Democrats and 2.4% self-identified Republicans…
Other findings in the paper include:
Participation level: Relatively weak
Less than a quarter of the sample (24.2%) had participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests as of October 5, 2011. (But as Codero-Guzmán pointed out to TPM, the movement was still in its relative infancy at that stage.)
Age varies widely
64.2% of respondents were younger than 34 years of age, but one in three respondents was over 35 and one in five was 45 or older.
Wealth varies widely
A full 15.4% of the sample reported earning annual household income between $50,000 and $74,999. Another 13% of the sample reported over $75,000 , and 2% said they made over $150,000 annually, putting them in the top 10 percent of all American earners, according to theWall Street Journal’s calculator. That said, 47.5% of the sample said they earend less than $24,999 dollars a year and another quarter (24%) reported earning between $25,000 and $49,999 per year. A whopping 71.5% of the sample earns less than $50,000 per year.
The fact that few of the people who visited the website actually participated in the protests suggests that this study shouldn’t be taken too seriously. A lot of people may be visiting the website just to find out what’s going on, not because they are active participants or supporters of those protests. Here’s the second one:
Survey Two: Face-to-Face With Protesters
The other demographic survey of the movementwas an in-person questionnaire of some 198 protesters on the ground in Zuccotti Square, conducted by Fox News analyst Douglas Schoen’s polling outfit on October 10th and 11th.
The results were published online Tuesday and used to bolster a Wall Street Journal column by Schoen in which he maintained “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.”
Still, a closer examination of the results of Schoen’s survey by The Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Rutkoff on Wednesday revealed some findings that Schoen glossed over or misconstrued to further his own perspective…
Age varies widely
As Rutfkoff explained: “While 49% of protesters are under 30, more than 28% are 40 or older,” roughly coinciding with Cordero-Guzmán’s findings.
Some employment, but overall difficulty finding work
When it came to employment, Rutfkoff explained that “33%… are struggling in the labor market. That percentage is double the U.S. Labor Department’s broader measure of unemployment, which accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs.” …
And although Schoen’s column maintained that “An overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008,” his survey doesn’t exactly support that assertion. As Rutkoff found, ” according to the survey data, just 56% of protesters voted in 2008, and of those 74% voted for Obama. Crunching the numbers, it would appear that only 42% of the Zuccotti Park crowd has ever cast a presidential ballot for Obama.” Another 35 percent reported that they “somewhat approved” of President Obama’s job performance while 24 percent “somewhat disapproved” and 27 percent “strong disapproved.”
It will be interesting to see similar research done on some of the local gatherings going on outside of NYC. Over time, the methods used to collect the data will get better and we’ll get a more accurate picture of the situation. All of this plays against the right’s attempts to portray the OWS protesters as just a bunch of dirty hippies beating bongos and smoking pot while sponging off society.
And of course, if they can find anyone who ever even read a report on a protest who might have once met someone who worked for a group that received funding from a group that receives funding from Soros, they say “A ha, look who’s behind the whole thing!” But the folks out there protesting don’t know a damn thing about Soros. They’re out there because they’re angry and frustrated. And they should be.