Wall Street discontent high but Occupy Wall Street largely unknown
October 24th, 2011
12:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Wall Street discontent high but Occupy Wall Street largely unknown

(CNN) – Although most Americans don't trust Wall Street, that hasn't translated into full support –or understanding– of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Despite large majorities who think that Wall Street bankers are greedy, overpaid and dishonest, four in ten don't have an opinion about the weeks-long protests, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Monday.

Among those who have an opinion, the public is split on how they feel about Occupy Wall Street. Thirty-two percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the movement that has spread from Wall Street to Chicago, and that even cropped up at the most recent CNN presidential debate in Las Vegas. Twenty-nine percent of the nation says they have an unfavorable view of Occupy Wall Street.

Full results (pdf)

But opinions are clear about Wall Street itself. Eight in ten say Wall Street bankers are greedy, 77% say they're overpaid, and two-thirds say Wall Street bankers are dishonest, a number that has gone up by a third in roughly two decades.

Over time, opinions about the financial center of the U.S. have gotten worse. In the 1990s, only 30% of the country said they had no trust at all in Wall Street to do what is best for the economy, 24 percentage points lower than now.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from a group of demonstrators on Wall Street who vocalized discontent over the economy, unemployment, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and myriad other issues into protests across the nation from Boston to Seattle.

The survey was conducted for CNN by ORC International among 1,007 adults by telephone from October 14-16, 2011. It has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Associate Producer Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. John

    Gee, people don't like wall street? Well considering we are bombarded 24 hours a day with negative media concerning wall street, how could it be any different. The truth is that MOST people don't even understand what makes up wall street and how it functions.

    October 24, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Lolo

    I am with them unlike the tea partiers who were protesting only for themselves and their racist views. Quit calling these kids lazy and depdendent on their parents. You people who are against them do not want the rest of America to wake up and realize how idiotic the republican/tea partiers are. These future generations are fighting for their futures unlike the republican/tea party protester who were protest for greed, guns, abortion and slavery tactics. They always talk about smaller government and keeping it out of our personal lives, but everytime they holler to get the supreme court to rule on descisions that should be personal. Get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Charles Burris

    DemocracyNow.org Reports:

    "Obama Tops GOP Candidates in Wall Street Donations"

    New figures show President Obama continues to pull in huge donations from the financial sector, with more money from Wall Street this year than all other Republican presidential candidates combined. According to the Washington Post, Obama has raised a total of $15.6 million from banks and other financial firms, with nearly $12 million of that going to the Democratic National Committee. Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has raised less than half that much from Wall Street, around $7.5 million. A top banking executive and Obama fundraiser told the Washington Post that reports of Wall Street antagonism toward Obama "are exaggerated and overblown ... [but] it probably helps from a political perspective if he’s not seen as a Wall Street guy."

    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/10/20/headlines/obama_tops_gop_candidates_in_wall_st_donations

    This is more confirmation of the details outlined in Charles Gasparino's 2010 book, Bought and Paid For: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and Wall Street.

    October 24, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Mark from Beantown

    "Socialism is a philosophy of failure,
    the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy,
    its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.."
    – Winston Churchill

    1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by
    legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

    2. What one person receives without working for, another
    person must work for without receiving.

    3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the
    government does not first take from somebody else.

    4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

    5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have
    to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when
    the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because
    somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning
    of the end of any nation.

    October 24, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Jesse B

    This is so stupid. A lot of these people protesting bring up fantastic points, but because there's so many to bring up it gets reported on like these people are crazy for caring. If you think that these people are so pathetic for being actually speaking up at the things that displease them, then keep going about your "busy" lives letting people push you around.

    The fact of the matter is that there's no one person to blame, so nobody is willing to step up their game and admit that they're not perfect 100% of the time. Nobody minds pointing the finger at the guy next to you, but when it comes to owning up to your own personally mistakes and wrong-doings nobody seems willing to do it.

    Wall Street blames the President, the President blames congress and congress "blames" Wall Street.

    The way for these protests to end up meaning ANYTHING is if some of these people start running for office. So far no one has stepped up to the challenge, and as a result the media can just continue to deflate a movement that actually has the potential to stand for real change.

    Until these 99% people start running for public office, though, nothing is going to change...

    October 24, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Joan

    I think it odd that the headline to this story would read that the Occupy Wall Street movement is "largely unknown" when the article itself goes on to say that 60% have an opinion on it!?

    October 24, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Arthur

    We have only to look at the insane amounts of money spent on election campaigns to see the point in all of this.. and that point is that MONEY buys our politicians.. And where does the most money come from??? Large special interest donations that literally buy our government. The 99% are waking up and want their fair representation. That is what this is all about. And as people open their eyes and witness what is happening.. they too will join in with the 99%

    October 24, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Feast of Beast

    If the people want to protest, OK, go ahead. No one's saying you don't have the right. But this has little or no organization to it. I'm afraid that some of the protesters wil do something really dumb (violence) to try and get some results, and that is going to be a real mess if someone gets hurt ot killed by the police. You can bet that there are many self-appointed "community leaders" who are waiting in the wings for just such an event to occur so they can exploit it for personal recognition.

    October 24, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Richard

    With all these recent activities (immigration, occupy ... etc.) the key reason for them is that the present government is not addressing the issues that they should be

    October 24, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. annie s

    Ask me. I have a very favorable of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Not only is the sentiment correct, it's as American as apple pie to protest injustice.

    October 24, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. bob bob

    The problem is that the "occupy" protesters can't make up their own minds about what they're protesting against. Sure, big banks and bailouts. But also wars and the IMF and pretty much everything short of the designated hitter rule. Comparisons to the antiwar movement of the 60's and 70's don't apply because that movement had a focus. This one is more like the antiwar movement after the Vietnam war ended: lots of energy but no direction.

    October 24, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. King

    "Ed Latey

    32% of voters [I assume they are voters (maybe not) anyway] 32% look at this protest as in favor of. That means 68% are not in favor of. That means twice a many are not in favor of this movement. Ask yourself, why? I know the answer, Do You? [Answer] It is not Wall Streets fault. If you want to protest, protest at the White House and at the Capital Building, that is were the responsibility belongs. Think of it this way, Wall Street does not make laws.! We cannot afford 4 more years of this President!"

    Ed, you have your statistics wrong. 4/10 don't have an opinion (actually 39% if you do the math in the article), 32% have a favorable opinion, and 29% have an unfavorable opinion. Not Favorable is not the same as unfavorable – roughly 40% have no opinion because they don't feel they have enough information to make a judgement.

    October 24, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Patrick

    I agree with OWS but it is time for two or three core demands to be put forward. How can anyone respond if it is not clearly articulated with the problem and a feasible solution. If there is a leadership core somewhere, they need to start getting solid demands with possible solutions. Like I said, I am for OWS (not everything – not "forgiving" student loans and smaller items like that but the overall theme against Wall Street influencing and moving Washington) but they need to solidify into something understandable.

    October 24, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. jtsghost

    If most Americans don't know or understand what Occupy Wall Street is, perhaps it's the fault of the mainstream media coverage. I live in NYC—where every mainstream media organization is headquartered, btw—and I watched as OWS was first ignored, then mocked, then covered only after the OWS videos of NYPD crackdowns were uploaded to YouTube by the protesters themselves. Mainstream media is still far behind in the coverage. If you want something more in-depth and timely, you have to go to independent media like Democracy Now! If you don't realize just how shallow the MSM coverage is, then go to DN!'s archives and get caught up: http://www.democracynow.org/tags/occupy_wall_street

    October 24, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Faith

    Unfortunately all of the protesting is going on in the wrong places. If you want to get your point across, stop going city to city across the Nation. Plant your butts in Washington D.C. in front of the White House AND Capitol Building as well as in front of Wall Street. The people you are protesting agaist are not in Boston to Seattle....they are in Washington D.C. and NYC! Your protesting is doing nothing......the greedy are ignoring you. If you want to be heard, go where it counts. THEN you might be heard. But the only thing that is going to change this Country is a truthful leader. And that my friends is going to be next to impossible to find. The current running candidates are all nothing but wealthy losers and liars. The last decent leader we had was Ronald Reagan. Sad but true. So good luck on your cause, but sadly the odds are against you, Washington doesn't care about the 'voice of the people'. They only care about their bank accounts getting fatter and ours becoming empty.

    October 24, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. MichealMay

    Just want to clear one thing up. One commenter made this remark.... "32% of voters [I assume they are voters (maybe not) anyway] 32% look at this protest as in favor of. That means 68% are not in favor of. That means twice a many are not in favor of this movement." Thats not exactly true. According to CNN's statistics 4 out of 10 people don't have an opinion on OWS. Out of a possible 100% thats 40% (sometimes i think i'm a genius). All i'm saying here is it breaks down to roughly to 30/30 for or against. Not overwhelmingly in favor of anyone i would say.

    October 24, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. NorCalMojo

    When OWS protesters allowed Obama and the public employee unions to claim solidarity, they started losing credibility.

    It's starting to look like a partisan movement created to enforce the status quo.

    The "help" from the Hollywood 1%ers doesn't help either. The entertainment industry makes bankers look honest and ethical.

    Goldman Sachs donated to Obama over McCain by almost 4:1. Getting rid of the GOP won't fix the problem. The corruption is bipartisan and any credible reform movement will have to make a deliberate effort to target both parties.

    October 24, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Patrick

    SMSUSAF – I respect your service to our country and I thank you for what you are doing but I do think your post is a little reductionistic of the problem. While I do not agree with everything OWS people have said, I do believe they are right on the money about Corporate Greed corrupting Washington – this does need to stop. Anyway, please do not let my disagreement with you take away from the tremendous respect I have for you and the rest of our people in uniform and the sacrifices you make every day – thank you again for that!

    October 24, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Dan

    I agree with the motivation of it. The lack of organization of it is also promising. A movement driven by and for the benefit of people like Dick Armey is not a true movement of the people, just another packaged opinion fed to the emotional masses.

    I am young

    I see injustice

    I work two jobs and go to school

    We are not all the stereotype you've been fed

    October 24, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Jonathen

    Um, there was a recent poll out showing 67% supported Occupy Wall St while something like 23% didn't. That leaves 10%

    So where exactly do they get this 4 out of 10 doesn't have an opinion?

    October 24, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Marc Faure

    Reading the posts on here make me wonder if any of you are paying attention to the world around you. I am educated, I have a job, I make much less than I did 4 years ago and for 6 months have started falling behind of payments. I don't want to, I couldn't stand to be on welfare or do nothing. But WITH a job, I fill out applications and send out my resumes and network like crazy. But for every potential job I find there are 200 others more qualified since they have been out of school longer. The anger isn't because the people want something for free, it's because of business and government practice. The GOP spent 1994-2006 deregulating every inch of the financial, banking and credit reporting industry they could. This lead to extremely highly leveraged banks, credit defaults worth more than the insurers were worth, whilst the whole time the rating agencies did nothing to actually determine the validity of rating or value because everyone was making money. So yes i blame Wall Street because they knew it wasn't real, just like Enron traders were fully aware of what they were doing. The GOP is to blame because they removed all the safeguards to keep these traders in check. Do to this our housing market fell through the floor and is the reason our economy can't recover. One major effect of this is exploding deficits, and asking the wealthy to pay an extra 3%, or more correctly, let the cuts expire when they were supposed to isn't hating the rich, its asking them to care about their country. Besides, this economy would have had a chance to recover if the banks had made lending to small business easier via the QE1. They didn't. They used it doing the same shoddy practices to make another huge amount of money to lower their leverage instead of making sound loans. Anti trust legislation is needed and if you want the protesters to protest outside a politicians house on top of Wall Street, I suggest the Bush Ranch, and Gingrich, Hassert and Tom Delay's front lawns. Put blame where blame is due for once.

    October 24, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. interested66

    I am a member of this movement, 66 years old, retired and working three jobs to get by. It is growing and it is full of people in all age groups. There are many reasons listed on the Occupy Wall Street website that list why we are so angry and fed up with corporate America and Wall Street in particular. Please read and educate yourselves before you criticize your fellow Americans who are TRYING to make this country better for all of us, not just the rich! It's about caring, about EMPATHY, about inclusion, about LISTENING and yes about some hard, hard work to undo the damage done to the US in the past few decades!

    October 24, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. WutTheFrak

    the rest of the world gives OWS more support than Americans, because they know that Wall Street didn't just f'd up our economy the f'd it up for the entire global economy. WAKE UP AMERICA These thieves not only ruined the global economy & got away with it, because they control our elected officials through their campang funds.
    The only way to garantee this stops is to ENSURE any campang donations that are not used during the campang SHOULD BE TURNED OVER IN TAXES TO HELP WITH THE NATIONAL DEBT.
    I SUPPORT OCCUPY WALL STREET!!! 200%

    October 24, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Chris

    Ed Latey: Like most right wingers, you read the first few sentences of the article and jumped to conclusions. No, 32% in favor does not automatically imply 68% against – READ the article and you'll learn by even the second paragraph that only 29% say they're against the movement – the remaining have no opinion. Should you have the mental wherewithal to actually read the entire article, you'll realize that your lame conclusion "It is not Wall Street's fault" doesn't even remotely echo with the general population – given that eight in ten say Wall Street bankers are greedy, 77% say they're overpaid, and two-thirds say Wall Street bankers are dishonest. In the future, read the article you're attempting to comment on!

    October 24, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. paulr50

    Just read this story about proesters in New York City on Wall St. Says they have been doing this for about 6 weeks. I think after 6 weeks they should get the message that nobody is listening or cares about them. It's goingto get cold. They should go home and have a cup of soup. It warms the soul.

    October 24, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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