A poll released Tuesday showed widespread support among New Yorkers for the Wall Street “occupation,” despite sustained criticism from Mayor Michael Bloomberg about its impact on working class New Yorkers given the city’s dependence on tax revenue from Wall Street.
Sixty-seven percent of New Yorkers said they “generally agree… with the protesters’ views,” while just 23% said they generally disagree. The poll seemed to show Gothamites were clearly receiving the protesters’ message, despite objections in the press and elsewhere that the lack of concrete demands and clear leaders had obscured the movement’s ideas and goals. 72% of New Yorkers said they “understand the views of the protesters” “very well” (29%) or “fairly well” (43%), and those numbers were fairly consistent across party lines.
Just 21% of New Yorkers agreed with the mayor’s contention that the protests are harming the city’s economy, while about as many New Yorkers thought the protests were helping. Most respondents, 58%, didn’t think they were having an impact either way.
“I think the poll shows that unlike the corporate media, New Yorkers, like regular people all over the country, understand exactly what it is OWS is about, and they clearly support it,” said Jeff Smith, one of the occupation’s liaisons with the press.
“I’ve been wondering for years why a politician didn’t take this route,” said Smith, pointing to the high level of popular support.. “It shows you how powerful the moneyed interests are.”
The poll also showed support for increased regulation and high taxes among New York Republicans, 76% of whom said that had been following the protests closely. Just 35% of that group said that generally agreed with the occupiers’ views, but 73% though it was “OK that they are protesting,” and 52% said they should be allowed to stay infinitely so long as they obeyed the law. Fifty-five percent of New York Republicans backed the extension of the state “millionaire’s tax” set to expire at the year’s end, while just 38% wanted to see it expire, and 48% supported “tougher government regulations of banks and Wall Street firms”, while just 40% opposed such measures.
The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,068 registered voters was conducted live and over landlines and cell phones from October 12-16 found that 87% of New Yorkers are “okay that they are protesting,” while just 10% didn’t think it was “okay.” And while New Yorkers were evenly split on the New York Police Department’s handling of the protests, they continue to hold high views of the NYPD overall, approving of how they “are doing their job” by nearly two-to-one.