New Orleans A column by Gerald Seib in the Wall Street Journal focusing on a recent WSJ/NBC poll was largely buried but should be inescapable for anyone trying to really understand what is happening in America today. In his words, “…a deeper look at those who sympathize with those two movements – one largely of the right and the other largely of the left – suggests they are more accurately seen as expressions of economic anxiety and anger….Contrary to popular perceptions, the tea-party movement attracts more white-collar support than blue-collar support, and the largest contingent of Occupy Wall Street supporters isn’t young but rather middle-aged.” And, yes, of course this resonates with my experience in meetings (ok, yes, demonstrations against me) with Tea Party folks and arguments we have made repeatedly that you can’t ignore people losing their homes and jobs or having no real prospects for the future, and think they will always be patient and pleased.
Summarizing the polling results, here are some of the bullet points worth remembering:
• 75% think “economic structure is out of balance and the power of banks and corporations should be reduced.” 60% strong agree!
• 38% believe in that both banks, corporations and government need to be cut back
• There’s no universal “love” for either of these tenuous movements with 35% feeling negative on Occupy and 44% finding Tea distasteful.
• Strongest support for Occupy Wall Street “isn’t those under 35, but rather those 50 to 64” – a Sixties Slapback!
• “Support is highest not among those who make under $30,000 a year, but rather among those who make $50,000 to $70,000….27% of those who make more than $75,000 a year count themselves as backers.”
• More people are Occupy Wall Street fans in the West than in the Northeast.
• More people are Occupy Wall Street fans among professions and managers than among blue-collar workers.
• Similar to the Tea Party the support is strongest for Occupy Wall Street among men, not women, and particularly men over 50 years of age.
In the words of the Dylan song, “There’s something happening, Mr. Jones, and you don’t know what it is.” But, clearly it’s not simple or shallow. It’s deep, dynamic, and dangerous. Better get with it!