City University of New York

Occupy Wall Street Demographic Survey Results Will Surprise You

TPM IdeaLab

We now know what they want, what social networks and online tools they use and who doesn’t like them. But just who are the Occupy Wall Street protesters?

Over a month since the demonstrations began in New York’s Zuccotti Park, two demographic surveys of the movement and its supporters are now available online, both of them containing surprising, perhaps even counter-intuitive findings about the makeup of the movement and its supporters.

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.

Politically independent
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.

“That finding surprised me based on what I had heard in previous conversations about the movement” said Codero-Guzmán in a telephone interview with TPM on Wednesday. “I wasn’t expecting many Republicans, but I was expecting more self-identified Democrats. In recent years, there’s been an increased interest in who political independents are and what political views are and what are their levels of interest in particular issues, which will only continue as the election cycle progresses.”

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.

Highly educated
92.1% of the sample reported “some college, a college degree, or a graduate degree.”

They have jobs
50.4% reported full-time employment, and “an additional 20.4% were employed part-time.”

“Dr. Cordero-Guzmán’s findings strongly reinforce what we’ve known all along: Occupy Wall Street is a post-political movement representing something far greater than failed party politics,” read a blog post on the paper posted on the Occupy Wall Street website Wednesday. “We are a movement of people empowerment, a collective realization that we ourselves have the power to create change from the bottom-up, because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians.”

Cordero-Guzmán told Idea Lab that he and Occupy Wall Street’s webmasters planned to release more findings of their initial data sample this week and would conduct future studies in the coming weeks with a much wider sample size.

“I can tell you about 6.3 million people visited the [Occupy Wall Street] website within the last 30 days,” said Cordero-Guzmán. Not bad for its first month of launch!

Survey Two: Face-to-Face With Protesters

The other demographic survey of the movement was 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.

Participation split between veterans and rookies
Schoen’s survey found 48% reporting it was their “first time getting involved in a protest/rally/march etc.,” compared to 52 percent who said they had a “history of past participation,” about an even split.

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.”

Politically independent
As for political leanings, Schoen’s survey recorded that the largest group of respondents, 33 percent, “do not identify with any political party,” followed by 32 percent that identified Democratic and zero respondents who identified Republican. A further 21 percent, again the largest cohesive group, said “both parties” were to blame for the “failure to address our problems.”

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.”

Overall, Rutkoff says, the survey indicates that “Zuccotti Park protesters are underemployed at twice the national rate, lukewarm to warm on Obama and broadly in favor of taxing the wealthy and encouraging a Tea Party-style populism on the left.”

Correction: This article originally misquoted Cordero-Guzmán’s statement about the visitors to the Occupy Wall Street website as 6.1 million unique visitors. In reality, there were 6.1 million visits to site in last month (since Sept. 18) and 4 million unique visitors. It has since been corrected.

Related articles

NYC Students Stage Walkouts in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

This is what I call a “movement”…

The Village Voice

​Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, students from around New York will walk out of their classes and march down to City Hall this afternoon. Once at City Hall, the students will join the larger Community/Labor March to Wall Street, which already has almost 3,000 people attending on Facebook.

A few months ago, New York Students Rising, a “statewide network of students and campus-organizations dedicated to defending public higher education and empowering students in New York State,” according to its website, started organizing around budget cuts in the CUNY and SUNY systems and began to plan for a fall protest. Now, thanks to a chance scheduling overlap with Occupy Wall Street, it has morphed into a solidarity march, and other universities are joining in as well.

Students from ColumbiaThe New School, and NYU have been organizing for the walkouts, scheduled at 3:30 p.m. (for Columbia) and 4 p.m. (for NYU and the New School), in time to get to the 4:30 march. In addition, students and teachers at CUNY and SUNY schools will be holding teach-ins prior to walking out.

According to Joshua Frens-String, a Ph.D student in the history department at NYU and one of the organizers of NYU’s student walkout, there are two main reasons why students feel so strongly about Occupy Wall Street: inequalities that directly affect them and a feeling that they lack real political representation.

Staging a walkout will have a “strong symbolic effect,” according to Frens-String, but he says the idea came from purely practical considerations: The labor march begins at 4:30 and many people are still in school and at work at that time. Still, the act will not be completely devoid of meaning. “We’re inspired by people giving up entire days occupying. The least we can do is give up a few hours,” he explained.

Who knows if the walkouts will get any results, but they show that OWS is gaining support from more than just zombies.

Related articles

#f@ckyouwashington hashtag takes Twitter by storm

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

It’s pretty cool to see so many Twitter™ responses to Washington politicians’ ineptitude…

Raw Story

Most suddenly-popular Twitter hashtags refer to events or celebrities that currently are in the news. But every once in a while, one erupts out of nowhere to capture the mood of the Twitterverse.

The hashtag #fuckyouwashington is currently making the rounds in just that fashion. As explained in a post at tagdef.com, “Thousands of tweets erupted in a matter of hours on #Jul23 protesting the US’s failed debt ceiling talks and general policies. Spurred by @JeffJarvis . Seen by some as part of #WorldRevolution or #USRevolution.”

A second post helpfully adds, “Our discontent with the way things operate. It’s gross.”

Although the tag may have been inspired by the current impasse over raising the debt ceiling, it seems to have released a much wider sense of frustration. Within a few hours, message boards like Democratic Underground were gathering some of the best tweets using the tag.

“#FuckYouWashington For Forgetting WHO you represent, Families, Elderly,Moms,Kids, WORKERs..NOT the CoporatePigs who you cater to…#ShameOnU” one reads.

“#fuckyouwashington for sending our soldiers on 6, 7, 8 tours to combat zones yet thinking it’s too much to ask the richest to pay taxes” say another.

And @YourAnonNews — a Twitter account associated with Anonymous — tweeted, “#FuckYouWashington for thinking activists are the same as terrorists.”

Other tweets gathered by CBSNews blasted Washington for everything from the handling of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the criminalization of marijuana to going after WikiLeaks while not holding Bush administration officials accountable for turture.

Jarvis is a journalism professor at the City University of New York, an expert on new media, and the author of What Would Google Do? Late on Saturday evening, he tweeted, “OK, my fellow citizens, it’s up to you now,” as though he felt content with what he had accomplished, but since then he has continued to promote use of the tag in his own tweets.

On Sunday morning, Jarvis retweeted a message from AnonyOps — another account associated with Anonymous — saying, “@jeffJarvis you’ve started a shit storm. Nice going.” That seems to sum up much of the current feeling.

A current Twitter feed of posts using the tag can be found here.

Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats

Glenn Beck the Clown, claims that his shows are just “schtick” (my description) and that everything is done as a “joke” (his words.) 

Yet, still another tirade against an obscure liberal professor within The City University of New York higher education system, has caused his “sickophants” to crawl out of their roach motels and start calling the New York City professor and leaving death threat messages. 

Still Beck will claim those threats have nothing to do with him or Limbaugh will claim that those messages are really made by liberals who are trying to make the “right” look bad. 

The New York Times

On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.

Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck’s warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”

Her name has become a kind of shorthand for “enemy” on Mr. Beck’s Fox News Channel program, which is watched by more than 2 million people, and on one of his Web sites, The Blaze. This week, Mr. Beck suggested on television that she was an enemy of the Constitution.

Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.

Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote.

Fox News disagrees. Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president, said Friday that Mr. Beck would not be ordered to stop talking about Ms. Piven on television. He said Mr. Beck had quoted her accurately and had never threatened her.

“ ‘The Glenn Beck Program,’ probably above and beyond any on television, has denounced violence repeatedly,” Mr. Cheatwood said.    More…

Clarence Thomas’ Ethics Problems, Then and Now

Justice Clarence Thomas has been noted for having the least to say during arguments before the Supreme Court.  It seems he never asks questions of the plaintiff nor the defendant when any given case is argued before The Court.

One has to wonder…is he that stupid or does he have something to hide, knowing that if he made one mistake, he’d be held up to scrutiny by the press and by a country full of bloggers, like myself.

Let me be clear, I do not like Clarence Thomas.  I do not like how Senate Republicans did everything they could to undermine Anita Hill and make HER look like the guilt party at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings nineteen years ago.  Having said that…

The Nation

Why now? What, after almost twenty years, prompted Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to leave a message on Brandeis professor Anita Hill’s office voicemail asking her to apologize for accusing Justice Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 confirmation hearings?

The timing was interesting. Ginni Thomas placed her call to Hill the morning after the New York Times reported that Virginia Thomas’s new Liberty Central organization accepted “large, unidentified contributions” totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those untraceable dollars came in the flood of right-wing funding following the Citizens United campaign finance decision, in which Justice Thomas voted with the majority. The Times reported that a wide range of legal ethicists said Liberty Central’s financing raises “knotty questions” about a conflict of interest for Justice Thomas.

[...]

It is now nearly forgotten that Thomas’s ethics record gave Hill’s accusation traction. Briefly a federal appeals judge, and before that a Reagan operative charged with undercutting civil rights enforcement, Thomas had a long habit of telling untruthful stories. As the late civil rights scholar Haywood Burns, dean of the law school at City University of New York, testified during the ’91 hearings before Hill’s accusations surfaced, Thomas’s testimony and record were marked by “a lack of candor, compassion and ethical judgment.”

Reporting to Congress as head of the EEOC, Thomas misrepresented his agency’s nonenforcement of age discrimination law. As a federal judge he sat on an appeals court review of the criminal conviction of Col. Oliver North, despite having spoken out in support of North’s actions in the Iran/Contra scandal. He failed to recuse himself from a case involving his political patron, Senator John Danforth.

To score points, Thomas even lied about his sister: falsely describing her in speeches as pathetically welfare dependent, a mocking depiction utterly at odds with the proud and hard existence of a woman who worked a series of minimum-wage jobs for most of her life to support her family.

Perhaps Ginni Thomas’s phone call was a smokescreen—an attempted distraction from the reporting on Liberty Central’s funding. Maybe it was unrelated. Either way, twenty years later it bears remembering that Hill’s accusations were not just a matter of “she said, he said.” Hill, in 1991, testified as a credible witness of unquestioned probity.

Thomas had a documented ethics problem then—and, it appears, an ongoing ethics problem now. Back then, Thomas’s truth problem obscured his shameful role in undoing the very civil rights tradition that made his nomination possible. Today, the Thomases’ evocation of that old episode obscures an ethically challenged Supreme Court justice complicit in handing American politics over to corporations and anonymous far-right donors—that is the real scandal.