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OWS Self-Survey Reveals Occupiers Are Disproportionately Young, White, Liberal and Educated

John on October 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm

So OWS ran a survey on their website earlier this month. Over 1,600 people responded and OWS asked Hector R. Cordero-Guzman of CUNY to analyze the data. He prepared this paper which turns the data into tables. He concludes his analysis by saying “our data suggest that the 99% movement comes from and looks like the 99%.” However a brief look at the data shows that’s not really true.

Nevertheless, Cordero-Guzman’s claim was trumpeted by the OWS website (along with the fact that 70% of respondents self-identified as independents). However a closer look at the tables shows that OWS isn’t really all that representative. For starters, 81.3% are white and just 1.3% are black. By comparison whites make up just 66% of the US population and blacks make up 12.4%.

The respondents were 67.1% male (vs. 49% of the population) and 64.2% were under the age of 35.

They are also far better educated than average Americans, with 29.7% either having or working toward a graduate degree (vs. about 10% of Americans that have advanced degrees). This probably helps explain the popularity of college loan forgiveness among occupiers.

As for the party affiliations, 27.3% of respondents self-identified as Democrats vs. 2.4% as Republicans. But before you go calling this a bipartisan movement, keep in mind that 2.9% of respondents said they disagreed with OWS. I’m guessing there’s some serious overlap with the Republican demo.

That leaves 70.3% who call themselves independents, but there are no policy type questions which might help place them on the political spectrum. It would have been very interesting if OWS has asked a question about political philosophy in addition to the party affiliation. I suspect a good percentage of those “independents” might identify as socialists, communists or anarchists. But OWS wouldn’t want that idea to get around, so they didn’t ask.

Contrary to Hector R. Cordero-Guzman’s claim, the occupiers do not look like the 99%. They look like a young, white, male, left-leaning, educated sliver of society. Nothing wrong with that, but this group hardly looks like America as a whole.

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