A Democratic pollster conducted interviews to find out, but his sample is hopelessly skewed
On October 10 and 11, an employee at Douglas Schoen's polling firm interviewed 200 protestors in Zuccotti Park, ground zero for the Occupy Wall Street movement. "Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse," he reported. "Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence."
Here are the particulars:
Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda. The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).
But were the people polled representative of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Almost certainly not. As noted repeatedly by writers at this magazine, OWS is a fusion of street protest culture and Internet culture. Some Americans in sympathy with the movement are on the ground in New York City, but there are protestors in other cities, many more people accessing and participating in the movement via Facebook, Twitter, and email lists, and still more perceiving it through the lens of media, whether niche blogs or newspapers or TV broadcasts. What matters aren't the interior beliefs of the people in Zuccotti Park, the folks most eager to take to the streets -- they're not building Occupy Wall Street around their own views about civil disobedience or violence, they're explicitly trying to channel what they call "the 99 percent."