Beltway wisdom would have it that Occupy Wall Street protesters are pierced, pot-smoking hippies reviled by heartland Americans. That view hasn't been supported by polling; several polls have found positive favorability for Occupy Wall Street, and when PPP polled the issue for Daily Kos, people earning less than $50,000 had a net positive view of the protests, as did people earning more than $100,000.
Now, Greg Sargent offers another metric:
Working America, the affiliate of the AFL-CIO that organizes workers from non-union workplaces, has signed up approximately 25,000 new recruits in the last week alone, thanks largely to the high visibility of the protests.
Karen Nussbaum, the executive director of Working America, tells me that this actually dwarfs their most successful recruiting during the Wisconsin protests. “In so many ways, Wisconsin was a preview of what we’re now seeing,” Nussbaum says. “We thought it was big when we got 20,000 members in a month during the Wisconsin protests. This shows how much bigger this is.” [....]
Nussbaum says that her organizers report that new recruits often mention the protests in a positive light, even though they have very little in common in cultural terms.
It's something of an understatement to say that Working America members have "very little in common in cultural terms" with at least the stereotypical view of the Occupy protester: 60 percent of Working America members identify as moderate or conservative (PDF); they're drawn from working-class and lower-middle-class neighborhoods in states like Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania; and field organizers often find themselves talking to people who have Fox News on in the background.
This may be a sign of the success of the Occupy movement not having a concrete set of demands. If they did, Fox and for that matter 80 percent of the pundits in the country, including plenty of "moderates" and weenie liberals, would have gone to work explaining how crazy the demands were. As it is, Occupy Wall Street is expressing anger that the majority of Americans share at how unequal and imbalanced our economy is, how our economy and politics seem to work for Wall Street no matter the damage Wall Street inflicts on the rest of us. And it's damned hard for a pundit to talk people out of that. That's why stereotyping the protesters as dirty hippies is all they've got.