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Is OWS Really More Popular than the Tea Party?



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On its website, Time magazine contends that Occupy Wall Street is more popular than the Tea Party. The blog post in question reads, “Twice as many respondents (54%) [to ‘TIME’s wide-ranging new poll’] have a favorable impression of the eclectic band massing in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park than of the conservative movement that has, after two years, become a staple of the American political scene.”

But Time’s poll seems skewed. Read the question about the Tea Party:

Q8. ON ANOTHER ISSUE, IS YOUR OPINION OF THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT VERY FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE, VERY UNFAVORABLE, OR DON’T YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE TEA PARTY TO HAVE AN OPINION?

VERY FAVORABLE 8%

SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE 19%

SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE 9%

VERY UNFAVORABLE 24%

DON’T KNOW ENOUGH 39%

NO ANSWER/DON’T KNOW 1%

Now read the question about Occupy Wall Street:

Q11. IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, A GROUP OF PROTESTORS HAS BEEN GATHERING ON WALL STREET IN NEW YORK CITY AND SOME OTHER CITIES TO PROTEST POLICIES WHICH THEY SAY FAVOR THE RICH, THE GOVERNMENT’S BANK BAILOUT, AND THE INFLUENCE OF MONEY IN OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM. IS YOUR OPINION OF THESE PROTESTS VERY FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE, VERY UNFAVORABLE, OR DON’T YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE PROTESTS TO HAVE AN OPINION?

VERY FAVORABLE 25%

SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE 29%

SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE 10%

VERY UNFAVORABLE 13%

DON’T KNOW ENOUGH 23%

NO ANSWER/DON’T KNOW 1%

In the former, the poll asks respondents for their opinion without elaborating. What do you think of the Tea Party — whatever that term means to you? In the latter, however, the poll feeds them information. What do you think of protesters who oppose policies that they say favor the rich?

Time could have asked merely, “Is your opinion of Occupy Wall Street very favorable, somewhat favorable, etc.?” Or, in reference to the Tea Party, it could have asked, “Over the past two years, groups of protesters have been gathering in cities across the country to protest policies which they say waste taxpayers’ money, the administration’s health-care bill, and the extent of government power in our lives. Is your opinion of these protests very favorable, somewhat favorable, etc.?”

I think it would have gotten a different answer.



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