Occupy Wall Street Persuasion Analysis

Douglas Schoen, a Democratic pollster and consultant, conducted a serious survey of the Occupy Wall Street participants.  He describes the effort . . .

On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park.  Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

I’m not exactly sure what he means by a “systematic random sample,” but Schoen does polling with elections on the line so he thinks his data are a reasonable departure point for consideration.  You can read (pdf) the simple response frequency to his survey from the 200 participants at his website.

Let’s consider these data for their persuasion implications.

The first thing I note is the strong similarity to national statistics in this sample.  For example, 56% of the participants reported voting in the 2008 election, exactly the percentage reported in this source.  Further, 15% of the participants reported being unemployed compared to a 9% national rate – probably within sampling error.

The sample reveals its uniqueness with its age and politics.  Only 13% are old enough to be from the 1960s and 1970s protest generation which rather surprises me.  I remember my peer group arguing for many of the same economic issues back in the day, but they didn’t keep those attitudes over time (as noted here).  Furthermore, no one, none, but nobody, identified as a Republican voter; the closest is Libertarian or perhaps Independent.  Nearly 15% are Anarchist, Socialist, or Working Families Party.  And over 30% see themselves as Disillusioned Democrats.

You could probably sell anything denim with these folks, or perhaps to anyone else with a rebellious attitude combined with a desire for creature comfort, as Levi’s clearly attempts here.  I’m sure there are other angles here and clever guerrilla marketers are on that case.  If the Movement persists and grows, the Mad Men might get in the act the way They have co-opted everything Green to make more green.  Look for pouty-lipped models in barricade-inspired ad images!

If I’m trying to get votes, I’ve got to be nervous here.  As you read the survey results, it appears that these disaffected youth are still likely to vote Obama in 2012 which is rather like the GOP getting the NeoNazi vote in any election.  The trick here is to get their vote without getting their support.  But, that would seem to be a camel and the eye of the needle project.

I was recently carrying Melanie’s purse on a project at a Large Urban Area and had a chance to talk protest turkey with a professor working the streets.  The local affiliate of the Occupy movement had snaked a noisy line down the street as we were preparing for a lecture, so the topic was immediate.  The prof seemed to be that fighting young man who spoke to other fighting young men and women, a secular modern counterpart to the 60s sacred priest, Scot Sloan of Doonesbury fame.  He connected the dots for me in a line that has probably already occurred to you:  the Occupy guys are those WTO anarchists who went silent following the 9-11 Attacks.  Even anarchists can do the political math and realized they were overtaken with that event.  But no longer.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s that performance.

How would you handle persuasion with this?