Business, Finance & Economics

"Democratic pollster" calls Occupy Wall Street protestors "dangerously out of touch" (Updated)


Occupy Wall Street protestors: Are they really a bunch of dangerous left wing radicals?


Spencer Platt

The second most popular article on right now is an op-ed arguing that Occupy Wall Street protestors "are dangerously out of touch" with America, and that Democrats embrace them at their peril.

The article is a provocative read, comparing the current situation with the Democrats (electorally disasterous) support for the anti-Vietnam war movement in the early 1970s. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and White House adviser David Plouffe have all sympathized with #OWS in recent days.

The analysis packs extra impact in that the criticism appears to come from within the party: the writer, Douglas Schoen, identifies himself as a "polster for President Bill Clinton." (Media Matters is less convinced that he's a Democrat. The site says he's a Fox News contributor who regularly offers advice for the party, while raising political contributions for Republicans.) 

After interviewing "nearly 200 protesters," Schoen's polling firm concluded that "The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies." Here's the money quote:

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. 

And here are the numbers he presents to support that conclusion.  

  • 98 percent of protestors would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals 
  • nearly one-third support violence to advance their agenda 
  • 65 percent believe in universal health care
  • 77 percent support raising taxes on the rich
  • only 15 percent are unemployed
  • and surprisingly, about half say the bank bailout was necessary

Here, again is the article

UPDATE: National Journal has just published the results of a poll that contradict Shoen's assertion that Occupy protestors are dangerously out of touch. The poll found that "Some 59 percent of adults either completely agree or mostly agree with the protesters, while 31 percent mostly disagree or completely disagree." Interestingly, National Journal also found that 68 percent of adults support a surtax on the rich. That's nine percentage points fewer in the general public than in Schoen's poll of Occupy Wall Street protestors — not exactly a huge gulf. 

Meanwhile, check out this analysis from GlobalPost's Middle East editor Pete Gelling, who views the Democrats' dance with Occupy through the lens of the Arab spring. 

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