For weeks, reporters, pundits, and political strategists have been puzzling over this question. Now, the organizers of the protest have provided at least part of the answer. A couple of weeks ago, they invited a CUNY sociologist, Héctor Cordero-Guzmán, to survey visitors to their main Web site, occupywallst.org. More than sixteen hundred people responded to Cordero-Guzmán’s questionnaire.
Here are the main points, of Cordero-Guzmán’s study:
- Most of the respondents are young and well educated. Almost two-thirds of them (64.2 per cent) are under thirty-four, and more than nine in ten (92.1 per cent) are either in college or have graduated.
- The respondents are overwhelmingly white (81.3 per cent).
- Two thirds (67 per cent) are male. Nearly a third (30.4 per cent) are female. The other two per cent “preferred another gender designation.”
- Only half (50.4 per cent) work full-time. A fifth (20.4 per cent) work part-time. Roughly one-in-eight (13.1 per cent) are unemployed.
- Nearly three quarters (71.5 per cent) earn less than $50,000 a year, and a quarter (24 per cent) earn less than $25,000 a year. Given that many of them are relatively young and don’t work full-time, this is not really surprising.
- Politically, seven in ten (70.3 per cent) regard themselves as independents. Roughly one in four (27.3 per cent) identified themselves as Democrats, and one in forty-two (2.5 percent) as Republicans.
The O.W.S. organizers were keen to stress the fact that so many of their supporters are politically independent. “Occupy Wall Street is a post-political movement representing something far greater than failed party politics,” they said in a post about the survey. “We are a movement of people empowerment, a collective realization that we ourselves have the power to create change from the bottom-up, because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians.”
You can find the entire paper as a PDF file here.