In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, Doug Schoen describes a survey his firm conducted of the Occupy Wall Street protestors at Zuccotti Park. Schoen warns the president and his advisers not to embrace the left-leaning crowd, noting that “aligning too closely with the anti-war movement [in the early 1970s] hurt the Democrats.”
Many Democrats rebuffed the movement, he recalls, and with good reason. Most Americans and most young people didn’t embrace it. When Time/Yankelovich interviewed members of the Sixties generation, 34 percent of them said they had been mostly in favor of the demonstrations, but 53 percent said they were mostly opposed. Just 2 percent in this survey (and 3 percent in a Peter Hart/Rolling Stone poll) said they were active in them. Seventy-one percent in another question in the Time poll said they minded their own business and had little to do with the protests. In 1972, a majority, 52 percent, of those under age 30 voted for Richard Nixon over George McGovern.
Americans are upset about a lot of things today. But the OWS protestors seem to be as out of the mainstream as the protestors from the 1970s. The media’s preoccupation with them may say more about media ratings and beliefs than it does about a movement on the move.