Who is Occupy Wall Street? After six weeks, a profile finally emerges.
First off, Occupy Wall Street protesters are older than you think. On average, for every college 'kid' there's a 40-something in mid-career. And while 60 percent voted for Obama, 73 percent are unhappy with him.
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Not surprisingly, perhaps, 75 percent of those surveyed said they view the tea party movement unfavorably, he says.Skip to next paragraph
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The average age of the demonstrators, meanwhile, was higher than expected, notes Panagopoulos. “We thought it would be mostly people in their 20s,” he says, but the average age is 33. “That means for every college student you have a mid-career professional in their 40s,” he adds.
Another somewhat surprising aspect of the movement regards its financing. According to the online pay site wepay.com, its donation numbers show that the overwhelming online support comes from “average, middle-class donors,” says wepay.com chief executive officer Bill Clerico.
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“The vast majority of those giving have incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range,” he says. The median donation amount is $22, while the average rises to $60, which shows that there are a few “very large donations sending the average amount higher,” adds Mr. Clerico. To date, his company has processed more than $325,000 in donations to Occupy Wall Street. Wepay is releasing its latest data on Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday.
The money, he says, comes from 37 countries. The average distance from donor to demonstration for donations given to any campaign is 862.5 miles. “What this shows is that the support really is grass-roots and widespread,” he adds.
However, attempts to pin the demonstrators down may miss the point, says Villanova University Prof. Matthew Kerbel.
“It’s important to remember that OWS is offering an economic critique that doesn’t fit neatly into the red/blue boxes we’re used to using to describe our political debate,” he says. “Their focus on economic inequality indicts both parties for being unduly influenced by the top 1 percent.”
Indeed, adds Brooklyn Law School Prof. Jonathan Askin, quantitative data on the movement may be interesting, but it misses the larger point of the group action.
“The ‘real political opinions’ of the Wall Street Occupiers are largely irrelevant to a consideration of the role that the Occupy Wall Street movement will play in the 2012 elections,” he says via e-mail, adding that Occupy Wall Street is a transformation in the process of civic engagement and political participation.
The movement is a forum to make government “more directly and precisely answerable to the needs of the people,” he says. “Through online social media tools, the people may now monitor and respond to government behavior, and make our elected officials directly answerable to the people, rather than exclusively answerable to the historically more powerful special interests.”
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