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Poll: NY Voters Back Protesters Occupying Parks


Occupy Wall Street protesters were allowed back into Zuccotti Park in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, though the park wasn't as full as it had been before they were forcibly evicted earlier in the day. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

Most New York voters don’t believe the Occupy Wall Street movement has a clear message or represents 99 percent of Americans, but they support the demonstrators’ right to stay in public parks around the clock, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Siena College poll showed 45 percent of voters statewide have a favorable view of the movement, whose encampment was removed from a New York City park Tuesday by police. Forty-four percent have an unfavorable view, up six percentage points from a month earlier.


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However, 57 percent of those polled said the demonstrators should be able to stay in the parks all day and all night, while 40 percent say they should not.

“Voters clearly support First Amendment rights,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said.

The movement has spawned similar demonstrations in cities around the country, including Albany, where a group has pitched tents and posted signs in the city’s Academy Park near the state Capitol.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to enforce the 11 p.m. curfew in adjacent state-owned Lafayette Park, where troopers have arrested protesters for three consecutive nights starting Saturday, charging many with trespassing and disorderly conduct. District Attorney P. David Soares said he won’t prosecute them unless they damage property or attack police.

While two-thirds of those surveyed said they don’t believe Occupy Wall Street represents 99 percent of people, 58 percent said the movement does not have a clear message. Demonstrators say government favors the richest people, the 1 percent, and they represent the rest.

The poll showed high approval ratings for Cuomo, with 72 percent of voters saying they have a favorable opinion; 12 percent say he is doing an excellent job, 44 percent a good job and 33 percent a fair job.

The poll shows 57 percent of New York voters have a favorable opinion about President Barack Obama, while 28 percent have a favorable opinion about the tea party movement.

“President Obama may be facing a difficult national electorate as we move closer to 2012, however, he does not appear to have any problems in ‘blue’ New York,” Greenberg said.

The Nov. 8-13 telephone poll of 803 registered voters had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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