African-Americans feel more positively toward the Occupy Wall Street movement compared to the general public, and want the Obama administration to get tougher with the financial sector, according to a newly released NBC News/Wall Street Journal/theGrio.com.
The poll found that 45 percent of black Americans have a positive view of the nationwide anti-Wall Street protests, compared to 32 percent of all Americans.
Thirty-five percent of black American respondents say the movement has been a good thing for the American political system, while 44 percent say it hasn’t made much difference.
Americans would like to see the Obama administration improve oversight of Wall Street and banks, according to the poll, with 48 percent of African-Americans and 74 percent of the general population polled saying that the administration has fallen short of their expectations with regard to oversight of the financial sector.
Oversight of Wall Street was the area where Obama polled lowest with black respondents.
The president drew high marks from African-Americans, who said he has lived up to their expectations on everything from the war in Iraq (81 percent) to health care (62 percent), and even the economy, where a plurality (49 percent) said he has lived up to expectations, versus 46 percent who said he has fallen short.
And while 53 percent of African-Americans said the president has lived up to their expectations when it comes to “standing up to big business and special interests” (with 41 percent saying he has fallen short,) just 33 percent felt positively about the president’s performance on Wall Street and bank oversight.
On that score, 56 percent of black respondents said Obama has fallen short of their expectations.
The president signed financial reform legislation in 2010 which regulates the fees credit card companies can charge customers, establishes a consumer protection watchdog agency, and limits banks ability to trade risky securities. The poll indicates that message may not be getting through, including to African-Americans.
Growing black support for “occupy” movement
The movement might have begun without much African-American participation, but high profile figures like entertainment business mogul Russell Simmons, award-winning actor Danny Glover, activist-scholar Angela Davis and Princeton professor Cornel West have voiced their support.
“We talk about the importance of building a movement that is inclusive, from recognizing that the unity of the 99 percent must be a complex unity,” Davis said at an Occupy Philly protest in Philadelphia recently.
“If we’re talking about wealth inequality, if we’re talking about poverty, unemployment – there’s no way that we can have those conversations without the people who are most victimized by those things here,” Stephon Boatwright, a Ph.D candidate in political science at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center told theGrio.
A common thread running through the Occupy protests is that corporate greed and Wall Street bankers have contributed to the nation’s economic woes.
It’s a message supported by 26 percent of black American poll respondents who said Wall Street bankers are the cause of the economic downturn.
However, an overwhelming 67 percent of African-Americans surveyed blame former president George Bush for the country’s economic problems. Meanwhile, only 3 percent blame Obama.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted from November 2-5 with 1,000 adult respondents. Additional interviews were conducted to achieve a total of 400 African-American adult interviews for the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/theGrio poll. The margin of error for the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is / 4.9%.