How the Occupy Wall Street movement could help Democrats

at 07:41 AM ET, 10/26/2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement is very much in its infancy, and many Americans still don’t know what to think of it. But there is also growing evidence that it could become a boon to Democrats.

A new CBS News-New York Times poll shows 43 percent of people agree with the aims of the movement, while just 27 percent say they disagree.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrator Dan Bulleti holds a sign in Zuccotti Park along with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement before they marched to the Brooklyn Bridge early this month. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

That’s a good start, and if the movement can help turn the 2012 election into a populist uprising against the moneyed classes, it could play right into Democratic hands — particularly at a time when the Democrats need more enthusiasm.

A look a little deeper in the CBS/NYT poll shows why.

The poll also asked which class voters thought the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress favored. While people were pretty evenly split on whether the administration favors the middle class, the rich or the poor, they were all but unanimous about which class the Republicans favor; 69 percent said Republicans in Congress favor the rich, while just 9 percent said the middle class and 2 percent said the poor.

That’s a significant perception problem for the GOP, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters — for whatever bad press they have created and will create due to the actions of some participants — are rallying support against the very class that the GOP is thought to favor.

A quick caveat before we get more into this: The OWS movement is still very amorphous, and it hasn’t shown much of a political bent. While it is often compared to the tea party on the right, it hasn’t yet shown the ability or desire to morph into an electoral movement of any kind. While the tea party fueled GOP enthusiasm in the 2010 elections, there is so far no proof that the Occupy Wall Street protesters will do the same for Democrats.

Having said that, the movement does favor Democrats to a significant extent.

Washington Post polling released this week shows that the Occupy Wall Street supporters come down on the side of Democrats, to about the same extent that tea party supporters favor Republicans.

What’s more, the OWS movement so far has a better reputation than the tea party. A recent AP-GfK poll showed that more people said they were supporters of the Occupy Wall Street protests (37 percent) than the tea party movement (28 percent).

The question for Democrats is whether the movement motivates voters on the left and can turn the election into a referendum on the wealthy and — by extension — the GOP. The political left is significantly less interested in voting right now than the right, and any boost in enthusiasm would be a welcome one for Democrats; that’s why we’re seeing Obama play to the base.

Much has yet to play out, but just as with the tea party and the right, there is an opportunity there for Occupy Wall Street and the left.

Rick Perry’s first Iowa ad: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is out with his first ad in Iowa, and the positive ad is focused almost exclusively on jobs.

Perry promises to create at least two and a half million jobs as president and talks about his record of job creation in Texas. He also says he will reduce regulations on energy exploration.

“That’ll create jobs, and reduce our reliance on oil from countries that hate America,” Perry says.

The jobs issue is Perry’s calling card in the race, and we would expect to get a steady dose of it in his advertising.

Romney’s Iowa flirtation has limits: We’re still trying to figure out whether Mitt Romney will give it the old college try in Iowa.

And after he suggested he might last week, we again have an indication that he might not.

NBC’s First Read reported Tuesday that Romney would not attend the Iowa GOP’s annual Ronald Reagan Dinner, which will be attended by every other major candidate except Jon Huntsman (who has sworn off Iowa).

Romney told Iowans during last week’s visit that he will be there “again and again.” Just not for one of the state GOP’s biggest events, it appears.

Obama team launches young-voter turnout operation: President Obama’s team is counting on big turnout among young voters again in 2012, and it’s launching a program to make sure that happens.

“Greater Together” will focus on voters aged 18 to 29 years and is an arm of “Operation Vote” — the overall turnout operation focused on key voter blocs.

National Youth Vote Director Valeisha Butterfield-Jones and National Youth Vote Deputy Director Eric Zoberman will lead the effort.

Obama launched the program in a web video Tuesday.

Young voters came out in record numbers in 2008 and voted heavily for Obama. Recent polling suggests they have soured on the president, though, and even if they don’t support Republicans, they have often simply stayed home and not voted.

The Obama team, though, thinks this remains a valuable voter bloc that polls underestimate what it can do for their campaign.

Fixbits:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will go after Obama in a speech today.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner will officially set his state’s primary date next week. He is expected to pick Jan. 10.

Oregon special election candidate Rob Cornilles (R) takes a page out of Romney’s book, with an ad featuring him running — literally — for Congress.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart won’t run against Sen. Joe Manchin (D) or Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) next year.

Ohio Attorney General and former senator Mike DeWine (R) endorses Romney.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who fought her party’s redistricting map (unsuccessfully) last week, could face a primary challenge.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asks the Federal Election Commission if he, as a sitting U.S. senator, can create a super PAC.

Must-reads:

Lieberman will go his own way” — David M. Drucker, Roll Call

White House hopes Obama’s latest slogan catches on” — Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times

Gingrich seeks to revive campaign that once teetered on the brink of collapse” — Shira Schoenberg, Boston Globe

Republican candidates offer a diverse set of economic plans” — Karen Tumulty and Perry Bacon Jr., Washington Post

 
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