As ‘Occupy’ Protesters Promise New Strategies for 2012, Global Citizens Are in the Dark but Sympathetic

Friday, January 20, 2012

New York — A great deal of ambiguity continues to surround the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, finds a new poll by global research company Ipsos for Reuters News, as only four in ten (37%) of global citizens in 23 countries report they are familiar with the protests that were going on in New York and other major cities around the world.

As a result, it may not be surprising that half (54%) of respondents say they are undecided when asked how favourable or unfavourable they are towards the protests as far as they understand them. Of those who take a position, those in favour outweight those in opposition two to one: 33% report they are favourable and 13% are unfavourable towards the protests.

Support appears to increase when a brief description of the movement is provided. In fact, the proportions of support and indecision flip; a slim majority (53%) ‘sympathize’ with the movement and one third (35%) are undecided. One in ten (12%) continue to say they ‘do not have sympathy.’

A Movement Shrouded in Mystery

Only one third (37%) saying they are familiar with the protests going on in New York and other locations around the world referred to as ‘Occupy Wall Street’ – 8% are ‘very familiar’ while three in ten (30%) are ‘somewhat familiar’. One quarter (24%) are ‘not very familiar’, two in ten (19%) heard of it, but know nothing about it’ and two in ten (20%) ‘never heard of it.’ Awareness is highest in the United States (61%), home to the first Occupy protests in New York, followed by Canada (60%), India (59%), Turkey (51%) and Spain (46%). It is lowest in France (18%), Russia (21%), Brazil (21%), Belgium (24%) and Mexico (24%).

Those Aware are Predominantly Favourable

Given the lack of global familiarity, it is unsusprising that a slim majority (54%) report they ‘undecided’ regarding their favourability towards the Occupy protests. However, those who take a position are predominantly favourable; one third (33%) of global citizens are favourable – 11% ‘very favourable’, 22% ‘somewhat favourable’ – while one in ten (13%) are unfavourable – 5% ‘very unfavourable’, 7% ‘somewhat unfavourable.’ Unprompted favourability is highest in India (50%), Spain (49%), Italy (44%), South Korea (44%) and Turkey (41%) and lowest in Japan (19%), Russia (20%), Australia (20%), Indonesia (26%) and France (27%).

Does Awareness Increase Support?

Respondents were given a brief description of the Occupy movement and asked to react to it: The 'Occupy Wall Street' movement appears to have a wide variety of goals and ideas that sometimes contradict. However, they are mainly protesting: social and economic inequality, corporate greed, the power of the financial sector and the global financial system.

In response to this description, the proportions of those who are undecided and those feeling positively towards the movement appear to flip. Half (53%) of respondents say they ‘sympathize,’ two in ten (20%) ‘very much sympathize’ and one third (33%) ‘somewhat sympathize’ with the movement. On the other hand, one in ten (12%) ‘do not sympathize’ (7% ‘do not have much sympathy’, 5% ‘do not sympathize at all’) and one third (34%) remain ‘undecided’.

Strongest sympathy exists in South Korea (67%), Indonesia (65%), India (64%), Spain (62%) and Turkey, while Poland (37%), Japan (41%), Australia (41%), and the United States (45%) are softest on the issue.

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These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted between on behalf of Reuters News. The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 23 countries via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. An international sample of 17,678 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed between November 1 and November 15, 2011. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis with the exception of Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Russia and Turkey, where each have a sample 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and an estimated margin of error of ± 4.5 percentage points for a sample of 500 19 times out of 20 per country of what the results would have been had the entire population of the specifically aged adults in that country been polled.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Keren Gottfried
Research Manager
Ipsos Global @dvisor

For all Reuters/Ipsos Polls go to:

For information about Ipsos and access to all Media and Polling Releases go to:

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As ‘Occupy’ Protesters Promise New Strategies for 2012, Global Citizens Are in the Dark but Sympathetic


Nik Samoylov
Senior Account Manager, US
Ipsos Public Affairs