LOWELL, Mass. - An online poll released Sunday of Americans' views of groups in the news shows Occupy Wall Street conjuring more favorable impressions among the public than their wealthy corporate targets.
Among 1,005 adults surveyed, 35 percent had a favorable impression of the protest movement that began in New York City and gained support worldwide. Only 16 percent could say the same for Wall Street and large corporations.
Twenty-nine percent had a favorable impression of the Tea Party movement, and 21 percent of government in Washington.
Knowledge Networks conducted the survey, asking participants their impressions of the four groups.
The poll was conducted for the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and the Boston Herald.
In terms of unpopularity, Wall Street/large corporations tied with Washington government, with 71 percent of those polled saying they had an unfavorable impression of them. The Tea Party movement got a 50 percent unfavorable response, and Occupy Wall Street protesters 40 percent.
About a quarter of respondents were unsure about the Occupy movement, and nearly as much (21 percent) had no opinion about the Tea Party. But there were far fewer without an opinion about Washington (8 percent) or corporations (12 percent).
The group surveyed was selected randomly, and the poll conducted online from Oct. 28 through Nov. 1. It had a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
Mike Mokrzycki, who produced the poll for the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, told the Boston Herald it is "possible" the results indicate a shift in sentiment away from the Occupy movement (the poll was conducted just days after violent clashes between Occupy protesters and riot police in Oakland). But Occupiers still rated more favorably in the poll than other groups tracked.
The poll does suggest the Occupy movement's message has found an accepting audience: 74 percent of those surveyed believe Americans who are not wealthy have too little influence on politics, while also saying Wall Street and large corporations (80 percent) and PACs (74 percent) have too much influence. Responses over the political influence of labor unions was divided - 39 percent said they have too much, 22 percent said they have too little, and 38 percent said they have about the right amount.
The poll also found that supporters of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party have different views about the role of government. Two-third of those who back Occupy Wall Street said government should do more to solve problems; four out of five of those who back the Tea Party said government is doing too much.
Unexpectedly, while Occupy Wall Street supporters were more likely to hold moderate or liberal political views (compared to the predominantly conservative Tea Party backers), Occupy Wall Street sympathizers were somewhat more likely to call themselves conservative on social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion (27 percent), and on fiscal issues, such as taxes and spending (26 percent).
Last month, an Associated Press-GfK poll showed some 37 percent supported the Wall Street protesters. Fifty-eight percent said they were furious about America's politics, up from 49 percent in January.