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October 13, 2011 11:25 AM Occupy Wall Street easily out-polls Tea Partiers

By Steve Benen

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Democratic leaders make a more concerted effort to show support for the Occupy Wall Street protests, while also tying Republicans to the Tea Party. It’s pretty clear what’s driving the strategy: one burgeoning movement is vastly more popular than the other.

This will very likely come as a surprise to the political establishment, which mocks OWS activists and shows undue respect to Tea Partiers. (In the case of CNN, this includes partnering with a Tea Party political action committee.) And yet, the attitudes of the political mainstream are rather one sided.

A new Time magazine poll asked respondents for their opinion of “the Tea Party movement.” Just 27% had a favorable opinion. Then the poll asked about OWS.

“[I]n the past few days, a group of protestors has been gathering on Wall Street in New York City and some other cities to protest policies which they say favor the rich, the government’s bank bailout, and the influence of money in our political system. Is your opinion of these protests very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, very unfavorable, or don’t you know enough about the protests to have an opinion?”

A combined 54% had a favorable impression — exactly double that of the Tea Party.

The same poll went on to ask about a variety of specific OWS-related positions, all of which enjoyed strong support — 68% want the wealthy to pay more taxes; 71% want to see bankers prosecuted for the 2008 crash; 79% believe the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has grown too large; 86% believe Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much influence.

It’s almost as if Occupy Wall Street concerns mirror the American mainstream’s concerns.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Tea Party folks have seen their support falter badly, but that’s after two years of often-incoherent complaints from its activists. Americans have had time to grow tired of the bizarre, far-right antics. In time, maybe sympathies for OWS will fade, too.

Or maybe they’ll grow. Time will tell. The larger point is, the establishment seems to assume Tea Partiers are sensible patriots, worthy of considerable attention, while Occupy Wall Street includes a bunch of hippies, not worth taking seriously.

Americans, in general, appear to believe otherwise.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • Bob M on October 13, 2011 11:31 AM:

    Hippies? Kinda dates the spuds in the media.

  • Mark-NC on October 13, 2011 11:36 AM:

    I'm betting on GROW, not fade away.

    If the Dems had and guts, they would be hammering the airwaves on the filibuster of the Jobs Bill and would be explaining the details of the Ryan Plan. They would explain IN DETAIL about what the 9-9-9 plan would mean to the bottom 65% of the wage earners.

    If OWS can do those things, it will GROW!

  • c u n d gulag on October 13, 2011 11:39 AM:

    It's interesting that OWS is doing as well as it is since it's a grassroots movement mostly comprised of literate young people, and not an astroturfed movement of mostly whining racist and xenophobic angry Baby Boomers who were too uncool and too straight to go the the protests in the 60's and 70's.

    So, instead of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll from that era, they have to settle for Viagra, Depends, and Easy Listening Muzak.

    I think the MSM is hoping that as the weather cools off, and we head into winter, that the movement will die out.
    I hope not.
    But most of the people protesting, unlike the Teabaggers many of whom have Medicare), don't have medical converage (except maybe, thanks to Obamacare, through their parents), so they may not be able to protest in the cold and risk pneumonia.

    Maybe leave a small group there until spring.

    GO OWS! DON'T GIVE UP!!!

  • stormskies on October 13, 2011 11:42 AM:

    This could not be a more clear example of the Corporate Media and the propaganda they generate to brain wash the typically stupid American. The 'tea party' of course being funded by the Corporations in order to create the exact state of chaos we are in now relative to a paralyzed government, versus a true grassroots movement by common Americans who are being raped by these Corporations. So of course the corporate media covered the tea party events 24/7 to the point where many of these events had more corporate reporters than the actual people turning up at the events themselves. We has the infamous TeaNN bus trailing these events of ten people or less with the Corporate Goon called Wolf Blitzer salivating all over your TV screen. These Corporate goons of course were 'directed' by the Corporations who funded the tea party to do this.

    And, now, with a true grass roots rebellion against the Corporations we either get no coverage at all, a purposeful decision by the same Corporations that funded the tea party, or snearing and derisive comments by the Corporate goons like Wolf Blizter, et-al.

  • berttheclock on October 13, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Yet, I have read comments by TPers at the Oregonian who try to make arguments that this movement has been staged by Obama. With both Geithner and Summers, that is very difficult to understand, but, then, when has any TPer ever made any sense.

  • blondie on October 13, 2011 11:51 AM:

    OWS will continue to grow and spread - I can identify three within 30 miles of me that are going to start in the next day or so. And I intend to go to each of them!

    As for the onset of winter, I've already received an appeal from a friend in NYC looking for donations of sleeping bags and tents. I'd rather donate to them than to any politician! (Which may scare Democratic officials asking me to contribute, but tough - I only have so much (i.e., not enough!) money, and I'm going to put it toward where I think it'll have the biggest effect.

  • DAY on October 13, 2011 11:58 AM:

    thanks, gulag and stormskies for putting my nascent thoughts into electrons.
    -Speaking of which, when the weather turns cold, it is 'always sunny in Phila", and it is always warm on the internet. and face book. and all the other means of communication that those rascally youngsters use. . .

  • Vokoban on October 13, 2011 12:07 PM:

    It'll start in Frankfurt on Saturday. It spreads. It was about time. And I so hope they cannot contain it.
    Sharpen your (metaphorical) pitchforks! It's revolution, baby!

  • T2 on October 13, 2011 12:14 PM:

    hippies vs. red-necks......man, some things never change

  • just bill on October 13, 2011 12:25 PM:

    it certainly wouldn't be the first time the "establishment" had its head up its a**.

  • nerd on October 13, 2011 12:40 PM:

    I have been wondering where the Left's discontented were and am glad to see a voice for them rising with OWS. I am having trouble, though, finding good, crisp messaging of what OWS wants and how they want it to happen.

    I want OWS to succeed in giving voice to the frustrations of average people and countering the Tea Party's "what's in it for me?" mentality. It would be easy for it to be derailed. I hope it is not.

  • Luthe on October 13, 2011 12:45 PM:

    27% support for the Tea party? The Crazification Factor strikes again.

  • Kathryn on October 13, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Ditto to Gulag and stormskies. As someone commented yesterday, the media is part of the monied elite whose taxes would be effected and they get their overly generous compensation from corporate America thus they want OWS to fade away (Chris Matthews said as much ). I think it was Gulag who said yesterday that the next protest should focus on the MSM, not a bad idea.

  • TCinLA on October 13, 2011 1:14 PM:

    The larger point is, the establishment seems to assume Tea Partiers are sensible patriots, worthy of considerable attention, while Occupy Wall Street includes a bunch of hippies, not worth taking seriously.

    So what's new? The "Establishment" has had its head up its ass for 50 years that I am personally aware of. These people have never been right about anything, which is why I am constantly amazed that they are allowed to continue to operate as they do.

  • Texas Aggie on October 13, 2011 1:21 PM:

    Just to keep in touch with reality, when your numbers are as high as the OWS numbers, there isnīt much more room to go up. Let's just hope and work at seeing that they stay steady. The only way they can rise is if they have a string of successes in bringing down some of the fat cats.

    It's like the SI jinx. When an athlete has a string of success, games won, batting average, points per game, touchdown passes, he appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Then his performance returns to normal and therefore he is jinxed.

  • Sasha on October 13, 2011 1:58 PM:

    "Just 27% had a favorable opinion."

    Ah, the Crazification Factor strikes again.

  • liam foote on October 13, 2011 2:14 PM:

    The incessant right wing propaganda, talking points, buzz words and smears have obviously begun to be directed at Occupy. There has to be more of an effetive message put out by mdoerates and progressives. The WH has a poor record of coherent messaging, despite Mr. Obama's oratorical skills and chrisma on the stump.

    Perhaps it is time for Elizabeth Warren to take things up a notch and offer her wisdom and guidance to the movement, both in direction and in message.

  • ned on October 13, 2011 2:15 PM:

    Steve, what about the other stuff the OWS people supposedly support:

    Forgiveness of all student loans

    Single Payer Health Care

    Forgiveness for all underwater mortgages

    There's a bunch of weird stuff that has been attributed to the protesters - a lot of it not quite as mainstream as the stuff you mentioned.....

  • ps in fl on October 13, 2011 2:26 PM:


    c u n d gulag on October 13, 2011 11:39 AM:

    It's interesting that OWS is doing as well as it is since it's a grassroots movement mostly comprised of literate young people, and not an astroturfed movement of mostly whining racist and xenophobic angry Baby Boomers who were too uncool and too straight to go the the protests in the 60's and 70's.

    Could we be a little more careful of how we characterize the Boomers, please? As a leading, bleeding edge Boomer (just turned 65) who has been on the front lines as an activist and protester since the Civil Rights movement I rather dislike being lumped in with the TPers. Thanks

  • zandru on October 13, 2011 4:58 PM:

    "racist and xenophobic angry Baby Boomers"

    Seriously? I thought the Tea Bagger party was made up of The Greatest Generation© - you know, folks who had been on the government teat for decades already. And felt more than entitled to it.

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