BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

Published: 28 November 2011 08:50 PM

Most California voters sympathize with the premise of Occupy Wall Street, according to a new survey, which highlights the ideological split about the protests that have sprung up from New York to Riverside to make a case for “the 99 percent.”

Today’s nonpartisan Field Poll shows that 58 percent of people agree with the reason behind the movement. But only 46 percent of voters said they “personally identify” with Occupy Wall Street a lot or somewhat, the poll shows. Fifty-four percent of voters do not identify with the movement much or at all.

The protests, now in their third month, center on complaints about income disparity between the country’s richest 1 percent and everyone else, and also condemn the financial industry’s role in the economic downturn.

Ideology plays a major part in how people feel about the Occupy movement, according to the survey. Sympathetic voters tend to be Democrats or independents; a third are Republicans. They mostly blame the financial industry and former President George W. Bush for the nation’s economic problems.

Voters who do not identify with the movement are more likely to blame the federal government and President Barack Obama for the state of affairs.

“It’s not your age, income level or gender — it’s your politics and what you believe caused this economic downturn we’re in,” Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said of voters’ views. “It really divides the public into two very distinct segments.”

Just north of Riverside City Hall, two dozen tents mark the spot of the Occupy Riverside encampment. The camp’s de facto spokesman, David Lowe, 36, said he wasn’t surprised that nearly six out of 10 of the people polled statewide were in some level of agreement with the reasons for the Occupy protests.

“I’m surprised that more people didn’t support us,” Lowe said as he sat on a concrete planter next to the tents. “A lot of people in this movement believe it’s going to get a lot worse for people … and that will push them toward the movement.”

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