Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: More popular than you think - Political Hotsheet - CBS News

Occupy Wall Street: More popular than you think - Political Hotsheet - CBS News:

occupy wall street new york(Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Burton)

The conservative criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it is a "growing mob" (House majority leader Eric Cantor) of "shiftless protestors" (The Tea Party Express) engaged in "class warfare" (GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain) whose grievances - whatever they are - are far outside the political mainstream.

The polls don't back that up.

A new survey out from Time Magazine found that 54 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the protests, while just 23 percent have a negative impression. An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, meanwhile, found that 37 percent of respondents "tend to support" the movement, while only 18 percent "tend to oppose" it.

The findings suggest that the right's portrait of the movement as a collection of lazy hippies who need to stop whining - to "take a shower and get a job" (Bill O'Reilly) - isn't resonating with most Americans.

That's because while the protesters' aims are vague - Bill Clinton said Wednesday that they need to start advocating specific political goals - their frustrations are easily identifiable and widely shared. The Occupy movement may be a big tent (one with room for opposition to fracking, calls for campaign finance reform, and a host of other positions), but nearly everyone involved says they are angry that a small group of wealthy Americans have grown increasingly rich while "the other 99 percent" have been left behind.

That's a belief that seems to be shared by Americans across the political spectrum. In 2010, as reported in a story on the income and wealth divide last month, researchers and Harvard and Duke asked Americans how they thought wealth is spread among income groups, as well as how they thought itshould be spread. Overwhelmingly, Americans said they wanted a more equitable distribution of wealth; they also underestimated just how large the wealth divide has grown.

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