It is noticeable just how much the Wal-Street protestors have recently affected the political arena. Originally viewed, by both left and right, as a bunch of rabble-rousers with little staying power, that view has shifted. Now even the president is paying attention and actively courting them. In a recent press conference with the media the president hinted that their goals and his are not dissimilar and compared them to the Tea Party, nevermind the Tea Party already has affected one election, has stuck around and yet the Wal-Street protestors have done nothing close.
At least several left and right-wing groups are paying attention to the protestors. Mostly on the right it is advocates for Ron Paulthat are actively courting the diverse group on the grounds of ending the Fed. And on the Left, Moveon.org and unions are actively organizing the protests all across the country. But does this movement have staying power? And if so, is it big enough and does it have the capacity to affect the 2012 elections?
A new poll does shed light on the movement. Conducted by Democratic strategist Doug Schoen for the Wal-Street Journal some dynamics of the group were revealed and his ultimate analysis conludes the left is making a mistake by trying to embrace the group. It does bode well for the group’s staying power that over half in the survey said they had participated in political movements before, 98% supported civil disobedience, but a full 31% said violence was okay to achieve their aims more on this in a bit). This group overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2008 and now only 48% say they will again. Only about a third call themselves Democrats and another third say no party represents them. Finally, a full 85% say they are employed, which means they may have achieved the socio-economic status to wanting to vote (despite supporting violence as well) or at least feeling they have a something to lose in the system.
But the movement is far out of the mainstream in American politics. Almost 2/3rd, 65% say the government should ensure Healthcare access for everybody, and 77% say the wealthiest should pay more in taxes. Perhaps showing what socio-economic bracket many in the movement represent 36% call for taxes to be raised on everybody, 58% oppose it however. Ironically, pointing to the contradictions inherent in any new political movement, 49% say the 2008 Bank Bailouts were necessary. This is far out of the mainstream in terms of viewpoints.
While in certain surveys a majority of Americans support the wealthier paying taxes, nowhere near does 2/3rd support the government ensuring Healthcare. Nor does a full third of the average public support the use of violence. So then where would these voters go if they came to the polls? If movements like Moveon.org and the unions have their way it would be for far-left progressive Democratic or Independent candidates. But many in the movement show such dismay with the system it is hard to see them voting in en-mass for a party they feel does not represent them. In other words, as Doug Schoen said, it would be a mistake for Democrats to actively and visibly court this group.
If appearances were everything the movement would appear likely to help Democrats and affect 2012. But that would disregard the movement is out of the mainstream, has contradictions within it that need to be resolved, and most importantly, does not share the views of concerned independents and moderates. If the left, and specifically Democratic candidates, embraced the movement they could be open to attacks they support a movement that supports radical and vast wealth redistribution. Even Democratic moderates might be turned away from the Democratic candidate on that charge. A social safety net is one thing, wealth redistribution on a massive scale is another.
It is more likely that the movement will help some Democrats and the president, but not nearly have the effect on 2012 the Tea Party did in 2010 or is likely to have in 2012. Democrats and the left would be cautious in how they approach and court this movement. It is far outside the mainstream and has radical and violent segments. The vast majority of voters, left and right, do not share these ideas.
Personal Note: When you claim to represent the 99%, try not to have 62 respondants (31% out of 200 surveyed) say they support violence to achieve their aims. Seems safe to say the vast majority of the public, you know, the more then 1%, does not agree with those views.