The Hill Poll: Voters say Washington is worse than Wall Street

In the minds of likely voters, Washington, not Wall Street, is primarily to blame for the financial crisis and the subsequent recession.

That is the key finding of this week’s The Hill poll, which comes as the national Occupy Wall Street movement — a protest that objects to risky practices and excessive salaries at major banks, along with American income disparities in general — enters its second month.

The movement appears to have struck a chord with progressive voters, but it does not seem to represent the feelings of the wider public.

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The Hill poll found that only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, whereas more than half — 56 percent — blame Washington.

Moreover, when it comes to the political consequences of the protest, voters tend to believe that there are more perils than positives for Obama and the Democrats.

A plurality believe that the Occupy Wall Street movement will hurt Democrats and Obama in the 2012 election. Even those whose sympathies lie on the left of center seem unsure about the likely political repercussions. Just half of all liberal likely voters — the group most likely to blame Wall Street for the recession — and fewer than half of all Democrats believe the protests will help their side next year.

The split on the question of apportioning blame for the nation’s economic travails corresponds closely with voters’ political ideologies: More than 7 in 10 conservatives blamed Washington for the recession, while more than 5 in 10 liberals blamed Wall Street.

But self-identified centrists, importantly, appear to be siding with the right on economic issues, with nearly half blaming Washington for the recession.

The difference also reflected voters’ views of Obama: Among those who “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the president, most blamed Wall Street, while those who “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove of the president blamed Washington.

Interestingly, those who described themselves as “not sure” about Obama nonetheless blamed Wall Street over Washington by a more than two-to-one margin, 55 percent to 23 percent.

Pulse Opinion Research conducted The Hill Poll on Oct. 13. It is based on the responses of 1,000 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Click here to view data from The Hill poll.