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Politics

Occupy Wall Street Poses Dilemma for Senate Dems

November 3, 2011
The new Quinnipiac poll out today illustrates some of the perils associated with aligning oneself too closely with the movement -- especially since, in the early stages, it's not yet clear what OWS will amount to. As Josh Kraushaar pointed out earlier, the new Quinnipiac survey shows 30 percent of voters view the movement favorably, a 39 percent plurality view it unfavorably, and an additional 30 percent said they have not heard enough to form an opinion. It's one of the first national polls that indicates a growing public skepticism of the movement - and comes as the police have clashed with the protesters in several cities across the country. Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movement are now viewed equally unfavorably among independents: OWS net favorable rating is -13 among independents while the Tea Party holds a net -11 favorable rating. If independents gravitate further away from OWS, it will spell trouble for candidates who are closely aligned with the movement. Massachusetts is a decidedly blue state, but most voters are independents, whom both Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Warren will be courting heavily. Cecil expressed optimism that the issue of income disparity will resonate, even in states not with more conservative political profiles. "The income disparity is no less in Nebraska and Montana than it is in Massachusetts or somewhere else," he said. "Whether they go to an Occupy Wall Street rally -- that will be up to them, but I think that the message of income disparity, of how do we make sure that working families and middle class families have a chance ... is going to resonate in almost every state." An important distinction should be made between the movement itself, and the principles protesters are espousing. Even if the public embraces the populist message of Occupy Wall Street and rejects the income disparity, it does not necessarily mean they will embrace the movement itself. Third Way senior fellow Bill Schneider reminded reporters Thursday morning of a relevant historical parallel. "In 1972, 60 percent of Americans were fed up with the War in Vietnam ... but they didn't support the war protesters. Thirty-eight percent voted for George McGovern, because what they found was that most voters were anti-war and anti-war protesters," Schneider said.
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