Occupy Nearly as Unpopular as Tea Party

A new poll shows a plurality of people now have an unfavorable view of the Occupy movement.

A new poll shows a plurality of people now have an unfavorable view of the Occupy movement.

Boston Herald (“Thumbs down for Occupy, Tea Party in new nationwide poll“):

The Occupy Wall Street movement may be starting to lose its luster with the American public, with four in ten now saying they have an unfavorable view of the protests, a new nationwide UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows.

The online poll of 1,005 American adults reveals that 35 percent still have a positive impression of the Occupy movement, but 40 percent now say they have an unfavorable opinion. About one quarter of the poll respondents had no opinion or were unsure.

The UMass Lowell/Herald poll, conducted Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, is the first to show negative sentiment tilting against the Occupy movement, which has now spread to hundreds of cities, including Boston. Several other comparable national polls conducted earlier in October showed slightly more positive than negative views of the protests.


Half of American adults say they have an unfavorable impression of the Tea Party, while just 29 percent hold a favorable view, according to the poll. A total of 31 percent say they have a “strongly unfavorable” view, indicating the intensity of feeling against the Tea Party movement is relatively high. Just 10 percent view the Tea Party movement in a “strongly favorable” light.

Just 13 percent have a “strongly favorable” impression of the Occupy movement, while 21 percent had a “strongly unfavorable” view. Surprisingly, lower-income voters have the least favorable opinion of the Occupy movement, while those making more than $100,000 are more supportive. And the strongest backing for the Occupy protesters comes from those living in the Northeast.

This isn’t really surprising. Both the Tea Party and Occupy tapped into popular resentments at the outset but gradually wore out there welcome as the protests became more associated with the yahoos who showed up than the legitimate complaints that spawned them. The Tea Party is of course less popular, having not only been around longer but now being strongly associated with one political party and a set of polarizing candidates.

As I’ve noted in several previous threads, it’s useful to distinguish between the movements and the grievances behind them on the one hand and the protests and protestors on the other. While the latter are losing public support, the former are not:

The poll does show one common thread between both movements, however — a strong dislike for both Wall Street and the federal government.

While 85 percent of those who support the Occupy movement say they have an unfavorable view of Wall Street and large corporations, 64 percent of Tea Party sympathizers share that negative view.

And feelings against government in Washington run even hotter. More than 71 percent of all American adults have an unfavorable impression of the federal government, including 72 percent of Occupy Wall Street supporters and 86 percent of Tea Party sympathizers. And about three-quarters of all Americans say that political action committees and large corporations have too much influence in politics.

The problem, of course, is that there isn’t 86 percent or 72 percent support for any particular public policy solution to these issues. That makes it easier for political action committees and large corporations to prevent action.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hey Norm says:

    Of course there are key differences in the movements and greivances.
    OWS is a conservative movement with a mind to correct the wrongs of an allegedly elite minority controlling government which has led to 30 years of inequality for the majority.
    The TP on the other hand is a radical movement willing to crash the world economy in order to achieve their goals…lower taxes in the face of already historically low taxes…growth through austerity (very taoist)…and keeping the government out of their Medicare.

  2. Nikki says:

    More importantly, I think it’s very revealing that the first poll to show OWS in a less than favorable light is an online poll.

  3. john personna says:

    I think this post is poorly centered, because:

    – I think the last repeated polls still showed OWS growth

    – It is a mistake to think plurality is a necessity

    Remember, the OWS guys initial response was “what did we do right this time?”

    It certainly wasn’t “of course, we are the real Americans.”

  4. legion says:

    When OWS people start openly carrying assault rifles in their marches, or when TP people start getting arrested for carrying assault rifles, then I’ll consider some sort of equivalency. Until then, there’s no comparison.

  5. Jeremy says:


    Are the assault rifles loaded?

  6. john personna says:


    Are the assault rifles loaded?

    Who knows for sure?

    (Do we need a range master at public political events?)

  7. Lomax says:

    The problem is that the attention span of the public is so short today compared to the 60’s or 70’s. This is the fast food, “lightning fast” internet speed, and overnight delivery age. Add to that, consider that about the middle of October the country’s attention turned to Halloween (masks, costumes, candy, and “haunted trails”) with record sales of Halloween related goods, the NFL in full swing, and now the Christmas season kicking off and everyone’s attention is now elsewhere.

  8. Matt says:

    I have felt this way about Occupy since it began. The net result of this movement has been to completely disable anyone who independantly does advocacy work. Now that every idiot on the planet is screming about UFO’s/The Fed/Faked Moon Landings/”Social Equality” or on eof the 175,000,000 different completely unrelated causes it is extremely hard to get anyone to focus on any one issue. Now I have to shout over a billion instead of a million. My plan to rescue homless people from freezing to death this wnter has been scrapped because I just cannpt garner any attention. Apparently, “ADMIT UFO’S ARE BEAMING LASER DOPPLEGANGERS INTO MY TESTICLES THUS CREATING HYBRID GILL PEOPLE” is just as important as the pile of frozen dead schitzophrenics that adorn our streets every moring. You don’t notice because Steve Jobs saved the planet most likely. So, yeah, the 40 people I planned on helping survive a winter will have to just that. Well 39, because I had to identify one of them at the Portland Morgue last week. It would be a service to the nation if all of you “activists – hardly – would Occupy my nuts.