That’s the key takeaway from a Quinnipiac poll released today: 72 percent of city residents said that as long as the protesters continue to follow the law, they should be allowed to remain in Zuccotti Park indefinitely. That also tracks fairly closely, by the way, with the 73 percent of New Yorkers who support stricter regulations for financial firms. 61 percent of New Yorkers (including a majority of Republicans) support the extension of the state’s “millionaire tax.”
But the most interesting finding shows that lower-income residents are actually less likely to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Only 16 percent of resident polled making more than $100,000 thought the occupation needed to be stopped “at some point,” compared with 34 percent of people making less than $30,000.
It’s not that surprising that people who make $100,000 and up would still have resentment toward the hyper-elite, given the high cost of living here. (And there is, of course, a long tradition of limousine liberalism in the city.) What’s more puzzling are the largish numbers of low-income people with some apparent animus toward the protesters. It’s not that unusual for Americans to hold political views that are at odds with their pocketbooks (that’s the whole premise behind What’s the Matter With Kansas?, for instance), but it’s a little unclear precisely what cultural factors might be at work here to turn off such a significant chunk of the city’s lower-income population.
One possibility: It could be the stylistic tradition the protest grows out of, at least historically. If you look back to the sixties, middle-class kids have traditionally been the impetus behind protests conducted in this basic mode. Maybe it’s off-putting to see people coming from a place of relative privilege complaining about their economic prospects — and whether that’s actually demographically true of the young people who are at the core of this particular movement, it could be — and probably is — the perception of them. Plus, while the involvement of the unions struck the loudest blow so far for broadening the movement, that’s also a bloc that can be alienating to outsiders who might be competing for the same jobs (only without the union support).
Or else this is the most committed group of Radiohead fans in the city, and they STILL can’t get over their disappointment.