American protesters side with foreign activists

March 01, 2014, 9:16 PM GMT+0

Americans who have protested before want the US government to stand up for protesters abroad rather than maintaining good relations with foreign governments

One in ten Americans say they have participated in a protest – and that group is much more likely than other Americans to pay attention to demonstrations overseas and to support protests like those seen recently in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand. According to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans who admit they have protested are more liberal than conservative, and they can no longer be described as “young.”

Those between the ages of 30 and 64 are about twice as likely as those 65 and older to say they have protested against the government. They are also more likely than those under 30 to say they have ever protested. That mid-range age group would include most baby boomers, who were teenagers in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Protests then (and now) are more likely to take place on college campuses, and those who attended college are about twice as likely as those who have not to have protested. Democrats – and political independents – are twice as likely as Republicans to admit to having protested; nearly one in five liberals have protested.

But whether or not they have protested themselves, more than three in four Americans approve of “peaceful” protests, and that approval crosses political and age boundaries.

Just 6% of those who have participated in a protest in the past disapprove of protest today.

Protesters are more attentive to protests elsewhere – and more hopeful about the democratic future in places that have held protests recently like Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand -- than others. The Economist/YouGov poll was conducted during the weekend turmoil that resulted in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Still, two in three former protesters believed that there would eventually be a stable democracy in Ukraine. More than half of the U.S. overall weren’t sure or did not expect democracy in Ukraine’s future.

In principle, by two to one former protesters care more about supporting pro-democracy demonstrators than maintaining good relations with foreign governments – a very different position from those who have never protested. The public overall also tilts towards maintaining good relations with other countries.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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