Q. Do you support or oppose the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement?
Support: 33 (35)
Oppose: 45 (36)
Not sure: 22 (29)
Q. Do you have a higher opinion of the Occupy Wall Street movement or the Tea Party movement?
Occupy Wall Street: 37 (40)
Tea Party: 43 (37)
Not sure: 20 (23)
These are rough numbers for Occupy Wall Street. The particularly painful part is falling behind the tea party.
If there is any encouraging news from this, it's that the decline in Occupy Wall Street's image is probably more connected to the increasingly negative coverage of the clashes between protesters and police than it is to declining support for movement's message. Pollster Tom Jensen writes:
I don't think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality. Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the 'Buffett rule' with only 16% opposed. And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don't think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street's image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the 'Occupy' than the 'Wall Street.' The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.
Clashes with police have fueled coverage of Occupy Wall Street since late September, but such a tactic was always playing with fire. Right now, it doesn't seem to be working as well as it once did.
Still, the image of the movement is likely recoverable, given that its message remains popular. Also, even if its own image is taking a hit, Occupy Wall Street continues to be successful simply because it has greatly increased media mentions of things like income inequality. Ultimately, it is the message that matters.