Coverage of the technology at Occupy Wall Street focuses on the neat-o, young-people elements such as Twitter, Facebook, live streaming video, and a sleepover atmosphere. But Occupy Wall Street also employs the kind of heavy-duty data crunching and analysis found at marketing firms and universities. In fact, two of the volunteers, business analyst Harrison Schultz and professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, today released a study based on a survey of 1,619 visitors to the occupywallst.org site on October 5. And about a quarter of them have also attended occupation events. So they aren't all armchair activists.
Some of the results are to be expected. For example about 64% of respondents are younger than 34. But others back up the assertion made in the title of the report "Main Stream Support for a Mainstream Movement: The 99% Movement Comes From and Looks Like the 99%."
Among the findings:
They aren't all kids. Xers, Boomers, and older are also in on it: One-third of respondents is older than 35, and one-forth is 45 or older.
It's not all students and the educated elite. About 8% have, at best, a high school degree. And just about a quarter (26.7%) are enrolled in school. Only about 10% are full-time students.
"Get a job!" wouldn't apply to most of them. Half of the respondents are already employed full-time, and an additional 20% work part-time. Just 13.1% are unemployed—not a whole lot more than the national average.
"Tax the rich!" could hit close to home. About 15% earn between $50,000 and $80,000 annually (pretty good anywhere except in Manhattan). Thirteen percent earn over $75,000 annually, and nearly 2% bring in more than $150,000.
It may be a party, but not that kind. The movement is often identified as a liberal, even Democrat-dominated cause. But just 27.3% of respondents call themselves Democrats (and 2.4% are Republican). And the rest, 70% call themselves independents.
Not everyone tweets. The microblogging site played a big role in getting the movement started. But that's not how most people keep up with it. Twenty-nine percent of respondents are regular Twitter users. But 66% are Facebook regulars. The biggest online community, however, is YouTube, with about 74% being regular users.
While interesting, the survey is still a rough cut, with some gaps. For example, it's based largely on what men said, as they make up about two-thirds of the survey takers. But the genders may not be so far apart. In an email Harrison Schultz tells Fast Company, "Response patterns for female respondents were so nearly identical to the male respondents that I won't bother to indicate them." The one difference: 52% of the women listen to the radio, vs. 40% the men. So Schultz is looking at this to fine-tune OWS's target marketing. (Yes, they are doing target marketing.)
And so far, according to the survey, Occupy Wall Street would qualify as stuff white people like. The sample of non-white people, according to Schultz, is too small to even analyze. One thing he noticed, however, is that some people identify with nationality, rather than race—another item to keep in mind for target marketing. And in the vein, the organizers have been discussing doing a "non-white media day," in which everyone who speaks to the media is of another ethnic background. They have also discussed doing an over-40 day.
On a personal note, I have noticed plenty of both at the park and the marches.