Poll: More Americans View Occupy and Tea Party Movements Unfavorably

11/06/2011
By Christine Gillette, (w) 978-934-2209, (c) 978-758-4664, Christine_Gillette@uml.edu

If you have trouble viewing the charts in this release, please e-mail Christine_Gillette@uml.edu. 

Nov. 6, 2011

Backers of Opposing Groups Largely Share Dislike of Government, Corporations; UMass Lowell Holds Forum on Occupy Wall Street Movement on Nov. 8

LOWELL, Mass. – A new national UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll finds slightly more Americans view the Occupy Wall Street movement unfavorably than favorably, while perceptions are more sharply negative about the Tea Party. 

Yet many Americans with positive impressions of each movement, despite ideological differences, agree that Wall Street and political action committees have too much influence on politics while people who are not wealthy have too little, the poll finds.
 
Detailed poll results and analysis are available at www.uml.edu/polls and www.bostonherald.com.
 
The national survey of  a representative sampling of 1,005 adults conducted Oct. 28 through Nov. 1 found 35 percent have a favorable impression of Occupy Wall Street and 40 percent unfavorable, compared to 29 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable toward the Tea Party. Ten percent viewed both movements favorably; 22 percent have unfavorable impressions of both.
 
Overall, what is your impression of:
 FAVORABLEUNFAVORABLEDon’t know
 

NET

Strongly

Somewhat

NET

Somewhat

Strongly

The Occupy Wall Street movement

35%

13%

23%

40%

20%

21%

24%

The Tea Party movement

29%

10%

19%

50%

19%

31%

21%

Wall Street and large corporations

16%

1%

15%

71%

33%

38%

12%

The government in Washington

21%

2%

19%

71%

35%

36%

8%

SOURCE: UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll, 1,005 adults nationally Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2011. Probability-based online poll conducted by Knowledge Networks. Sampling error +/- 3.8 points. Percentages may not add to 100% because of rounding.

The poll found that 74 percent of those surveyed believe Americans who are not wealthy have too little influence on American politics today. About three-quarters said Wall Street and large corporations (80 percent) and political action committees (74 percent) have too much influence. Views of the political influence of labor unions were split – 39 percent said they have too much influence, 38 percent said they have about the right amount and 22 percent said they have too little.

Americans surveyed who view Occupy Wall Street favorably were more likely to say they generally hold moderate (52 percent) or liberal (33 percent) political views, while most of those with a positive impression of the Tea Party said they are conservative (64 percent).

However, Occupy Wall Street sympathizers were somewhat more likely to call themselves conservative on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion (27 percent) and fiscal issues such as taxes and spending (26 percent); 11 percent of those who view the Tea Party positively say they are liberal on social issues but just 4 percent say that about fiscal issues.
 
The poll also found that Occupy Wall Street and tea party supporters have very different opinions about the role of government. Sixty-four percent who view Occupy Wall Street favorably said government should do more to solve problems, while 81 percent with a positive impression of the Tea Party said government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. Yet both groups largely share negative views of Wall Street and large corporations and the government in Washington: 

Overall, what is your impression of:

 

Wall Street and large corporations: UNFAVORABLE

The government in Washington: UNFAVORABLE

 

NET

Strongly

Somewhat

NET

Strongly

Somewhat

Occupy Wall Street: FAVORABLE

85%

56%

28%

72%

32%

40%

Tea Party:         FAVORABLE

64%

30%

34%

86%

56%

29%

SOURCE: UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll, 1,005 adults nationally Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2011. Probability-based online poll conducted by Knowledge Networks. Percentages may not add to 100% because of rounding. 

UMass Lowell will hold a student forum on the Occupy movement – which has grown from the Occupy Wall Street protest to public encampments in cities around the world, including Boston – on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 12:30 p.m. The event will feature speakers including two UMass Lowell student veterans who have participated in Occupy Boston; Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, an assistant professor of political science whose work focuses on protest, repression and media freedom; and independent survey researcher Mike Mokrzycki, who oversaw the poll. Chancellor Marty Meehan will moderate the discussion, which will be held in O’Leary Library, Room 222, 61 Wilder St., on the university’s South Campus.
 
“This poll helps us better understand the repercussions of the current economic conditions. The Occupy movement comes at a time when more people are questioning the direction of our country and the motivation of its political and financial leaders,” said Prof. Frank Talty, director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.
 
In addition to the Nov. 8 forum, the poll results will be used by UMass Lowell students and faculty to inform research and integrate into classroom learning.
 
“The rapid growth of the Tea Party and now the Occupy movement require students and researchers to analyze and understand the underlying ideologies and motivations. In this way, we in academia can attempt to offer some answers to the questions being raised by these groups. Our forum on Nov. 8 is a first step in that effort,” said Talty.
 
The independent, nonpartisan poll was conducted for the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and Boston Herald under the direction of Mokrzycki – former head of polling for the Associated Press whose other clients include NBC News, where he manages the network’s exit poll operation, and the Pew Research Center.
 
UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.www.uml.edu