wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

Is Occupy Wall Street late to the game?

at 07:37 AM ET, 12/13/2011

Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country are giving big business a hard time, but a new poll suggests they might have missed their window.

With Wall Street’s foibles in the latter part of last decade starting to fade a bit from memory, Americans are increasingly likely to attribute the country’s problems to big government rather than big business, according to a new Gallup poll.
Occupy Wall Street activists march during a tour of foreclosed homes in the East New York neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York last week. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The poll shows 64 percent of Americans say “big government” is the biggest threat to the country, while just 26 percent say it’s “big business” and 8 percent say it’s “big labor.”

That figure for big business is about as low as it was before the economy collapsed in 2008, and those who say big government is the biggest threat is near a historic high.

Which suggests that the tea party might well have beaten Occupy Wall Street to the punch after the economic collapse, and that Occupy Wall Street might have missed its best chance to really catch fire.

Everyone needs a villain, and at certain points in history, big government, big business and big labor have all had their moments.

Gallup’s numbers show the fear of big government has trended steadily upward for decades, peaking at 65 percent in 1999 and 2000, while fear of big labor was almost on par with big government back in the 1960s.

The number who named big business was the biggest threat peaked at 38 percent in 2002 after the scandals at Worldcom and Enron. It hit 32 percent after the economic collapse in 2008.

So today, with the number around one-quarter — about where it was for much of the 1980s and 1990s — it begs the question: is there really the necessary motivation for the movement?

Even among Democrats, more name big government as the biggest threat (48 percent) than big business (44 percent), a reversal from two years ago when big business was the bigger threat by a 20-point margin.

“While Occupy Wall Street isn’t necessarily affiliated with a particular party, its anti-big business message may not be resonating with majorities in any party,” wrote Gallup’s Elizabeth Mendes. “Republicans, independents, and now close to half of Democrats are more concerned about the threat of big government than that coming from big business.”

Fear and anger are powerful motivators, and at least for some in this country, they have sustained some pretty serious Occupy Wall Street protests in recent months.

But this new polling suggests big business isn’t the bogeyman it was even two years ago, which makes expanding the movement and gaining momentum tougher.

There is certainly an argument to be made that the tea party harnessed the anger that was out there and geared it toward big government in the aftermath of the economic collapse, while Occupy Wall Street has been late to the game in gearing that anger toward big business.

Things can still change, but in politics, it’s often about striking while the iron is hot.

Romney and Gingrich keep jousting: The ongoing back and forth between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continued Monday, with the candidates trading a series of charges trying to peg the other as a political insider who got rich in an underhanded way.

“I’m somebody who sees government as playing the role of encouraging our private sector to create jobs because I spent my life in the private sector. Speaker Gingrich has spent the last 30 years in Washington,” Romney said, according to MSNBC. “If you think that a background in Washington and working to connect various people to Washington leaders and being in government affairs is what we need in Washington — why, he’s the guy.”

The shot appears to be geared towards Gingrich’s time working for Freddie Mac, which Gingrich has cast as being a “historian” rather than a lobbyist. Romney on Monday said that the $1.6 million Gingrich was reportedly paid would make him the “highest-paid historian in history.”

Gingrich on Monday accused Romney of getting rich off of bankrupting businesses and laying people off while working at Bain Capital.

By the evening, Gingrich was calling for a cease fire. We wouldn’t hold our breath.

NRCC targets five on Keystone XL Pipeline: The National Republican Congressional Committee is going up with web ads and robocalls targeting five Democrats in union-heavy districts, urging them to support the Keystone XL Pipeline by pointing to the union jobs it would create.

The tactic is an interesting one for Republicans, who are generally not on the same page as unions. But conservative advocates of the Keystone XL Pipeline have tried to use the union support is has garnered as a wedge against Democrats who have significant union members in their districts.

The ads and robocalls will run in the districts of Reps. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Mark Critz (D-Pa.).

The ads are issue ads and are small buys, but they could have the dual benefit of forcing some tough headlines for some Democrats in conservative-leaning districts.

Democrats get their man for Costello seat: Former school administrator Brad Harriman has announced he will run for retiring Rep. Jerry Costello’s (D-Ill.) seat, giving Democrats their candidate in what could be a tough race.

Harriman will inform supporters in an e-mail today and has launched a campaign web site, on which he says, “Successful (football) teams need commitment, leadership, and people who are willing to set aside personal agendas for the good of the team to get things done. The same is true of Congress.”

On the GOP side, former lieutenant governor candidate Jason Plummer and former Belleville Mayor Rodger Cook are the leading candidates. The seat leans slightly Democratic.

Fixbits:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says Republicans shouldn’t underestimate Gingrich.

Newsmax says its debate moderated by Donald Trump is still on.

Herman Cain says Romney’s $10,000 bet wasn’t a gaffe.

In an interview with Politico, Romney says Gingrich is the frontrunner and suggests he will be just fine even if he doesn’t win the nomination.

A Washington D.C. court will hear the Justice Department’s case against the Texas GOP’s redistricting maps in mid-January. This is separate from the Texas GOP’s appeal to the Supreme Court to block an interim court-drawn map. That court-drawn map substituted for the GOP map while it is litigated.

The top three GOP Senate candidates in Missouri are all balking at endorsing home-state Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for conference vice chairman. Blunt’s contest with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has increasingly become a tea party-versus-establishment race, with Blunt being the establishment guy.

Must-reads:

Eric Holder wades into debate over voting rights as presidential election nears” — Jerry Markon and Krissah Thompson, Washington Post

Romney’s Run Puts Spotlight on Past Job and Peers” — Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

Mitt Romney gaffes: 8 times the button-down candidate should have buttoned up” — Linda Feldmann, Christian Science Monitor

Read more on PostPolitics.com

Romney steps up attacks on Gingrich

Fact checking the White House’s spin on the GOP payroll tax bill

White House: $5.6 billion in fraud recovered

Bachmann’s certainty is both her greatest strength and biggest weakness

 
Read what others are saying