The Occupy Wall Street protesters are welcome to stay on indefinitely — just as long as they obey the laws — New York City voters of all political stripes said in a Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday.
Democrats and Republicans alike supported the protesters’ right to demonstrate, and though 58 percent of Republicans said they disagreed with the protesters’ views, 73 percent of Republicans supported their right to protest and 52 percent of Republicans said the protesters could stay as long as they kept obeying the laws, the poll found.
Democrats, not surprisingly, were much more likely to agree with the protesters’ views, with 81 percent voicing support — a trend that has not escaped the notice of the leaders of the Democratic Party.
Perhaps more surprising is that the vast majority of New York voters said they grasped what those views were: a total of 72 percent said they either understood “fairly well” or “very well” the protesters’ views. One frequent criticism of the Occupy movement during its recently extended monthlong residency downtown has been that the protesters lack a coherent message.
“Critics complain that no one can figure out what the protesters are protesting,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “But seven out of 10 New Yorkers say they understand and most agree with the anti-Wall Street views of the protesters.” (See details on the poll questions and answers.)
City voters were more divided the police’s response to the protests, which has been criticized in some circles as heavy-handed. Forty-six percent said they approved of the police’s handling of the protests, while 45 percent disapproved. The numbers are, statistically speaking, equivalent, given the survey’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The split cleaved along party lines, with Republicans approving 70 to 23 percent, and Democrats disapproving, 51 to 40 percent.
The poll also asked voters about a tax measure that the Wall Street protesters have loudly opposed: the sunsetting at the end of the year of the state’s so-called “millionaire’s tax” on high-income residents; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says the tax puts New York at a competitive disadvantage with other states.
The poll found that 61 percent of city voters, including 55 percent of Republicans, think the tax should be extended.
The survey was conducted Oct. 12 to Oct. 16, of 1,068 registered voters.