Dueling OWS Polls

Spotted on Memeorandum today (click image to enlarge):

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The “pro” poll is by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) and the “anti” poll is by Quinnipiac. Notice that mostly leftie bloggers link to the article suggesting favorable polling for OWS, and mostly rightie bloggers link to the article about the unfavorable poll.

I have no particular expertise at criticizing poll data, but note that the two polls did not ask exactly the same question. CNN/ORC tells us that Americans have a favorable view of OWS positions. Quinnipiac tells us that Americans have an unfavorable view of OWS.

Shakesis writes,

Nearly any protest movement that can just hang in there inevitably grains credibility among the general population, for the sheer appearance of having unwavering principles and not just being the dirty hippies/crackpots/fools/lowlifes/extremists/whatever that their opponents, with the help of the media, make them out to be.

Hmm, is that really true? In my experience, if the movement itself doesn’t take great care to not reinforce negative media stereotypes, those negative stereotypes stick and much reduce the effectiveness of the protest movement. I’ll throw that open for discussion. I say the Bigger Asshole rule is still in effect.

Update: This is what I’ve feared all along. [Update: If Salon is being balky, try the New York Times. If stuff like this continues, OWS is over. It would be better to withdraw from public places and re-organize as a more conventional movement.

23 thoughts on “Dueling OWS Polls

  1. For about 10 months from ’09-10, I did polling for a little company that did polling for Republicans – outside of a few product calls.

    I never trust a poll if I can’t read the questions, because I’ve seen how horribly stilted some of those questions can be. You can’t believe how bad the push-poll questions can be.
    Having said that, Quinnipiac is usually pretty reliable. They took Marist’s polling format since the guy who moved over there went started with the the Professor, who I know, who came up with Marist polling.

    And yeah, I agree – the Bigger Asshole Rule still applies. Especially since, again, the Oakland police went nuts.

  2. I wandered down to Oakland for a bit yesterday, left way before the shit hit the fan. It’s not all dirty hippies, obviously, not even mostly, but I wish those black bloc f#cktards would stay the hell away. Once they start breaking windows, that’s all that gets talked about, and the more mainstream people (unions, doctors, nurses, city employees, regular folks) go home. Generally, these are 18-25 year old boys, who just like to get aggro, not necessarily care about the cause. I thought the police were very restrained yesterday, though last weeks event was certainly overkill on their part. Non-violence is important.

    Pollsters are sneaky, be careful of the way the question is asked, indeed!

    • Generally, these are 18-25 year old boys, who just like to get aggro, not necessarily care about the cause.

      That’s what usually happens to demonstrations when no one is in charge. Possibly most of the boys couldn’t tell you what the cause is.

  3. “I have no particular expertise at criticizing poll data”

    None needed, as you know these polls are bought and paid for by the corporate media. The outcomes are predetermined to prop up whatever misinformation campaign they are undertaking at the time. They are nothing but marketing tools, what else would the bobble-heads talk about with out all this poll data, news?

    The corporate media will all turn against any populist movement in the end, they are only acting like they are being fair because this story has legs, sells commercials, once the balance tips to where the overlords are losing more because of the movement than they can extort from the commercial sponsors all the poll data will line up with the qunnipiac numbers, and the story will die.

  4. It makes as much sense as when a plurality of Americans self-identify as Conservatives, but believe in liberal policies. The substance of what OWS stands for they agree with; the image of it they disagree with. Most Americans are liberal in their policies, they just don’t want to be called a liberal.

  5. What it comes down to is most people don’t know WHAT they believe. The great mass of “regular Joe’s” probably devote one brain cell to politics a month, sadly.

  6. Because they watch TV , where they learn that liberals are communists?
    By the way, Salon won’t let me read that article.

  7. Though it’s hard to be sure, I can’t help but get the feeling that the thugs who did the vandalism were paid agitators. The photos show all of them wearing identical black shirts and Palestinian-style bandanas. Like everyone just happens to have a set of those in their closet, and decided to wear it that night in Oakland. That and a supply of firebombs (just happen to have those too) makes it look rather well-organized. From what the OWS protestors are saying, they have no idea who these people are or why they suddenly showed up.

  8. I believe the OWS folks know they must remain pure as Caesar’s wife.
    They know that faintest whiff of violence or impropriety will get them castigated in the press. But due to the loose flowing nature of these protests, they know they also have to do battle on three fronts–the police, the press, and random vandals who think this is a great opportunity to break stuff.

    Been there, done that, know how it goes.

    Going by personal experience, I’m confident they’ll be up to the task. When you need it most, there are folks who arrive to help you. And the thing that warms my heart is that they are very, very good at what they do.

    • I believe the OWS folks know they must remain pure as Caesar’s wife.

      I believe most of them do, but it seems there are always some who think God gave them a permission slip to be assholes.

      Now everybody is saying the troublemakers are paid agents. And maybe some or most of them are. But there is an element within the activist left that really thinks there is something glorious about being offensive and destructive. This is a small percentage of the activist left, but I’ve met too many of them to pretend they don’t exist.

      Going by personal experience, I’m confident they’ll be up to the task. When you need it most, there are folks who arrive to help you. And the thing that warms my heart is that they are very, very good at what they do.

      I hope so.

  9. The Oakland masked vandals are the “black bloc” clowns, who tend to be stupid jerks who in this case are quite likely being egged on by FBI/Oakland police infiltrators, such as the ones shown here infiltrating Occupy Oakland: http://youtu.be/VrvMzqopHH0

    You will note in this video that the real Occupy folks were trying to stop the vandals: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/occupy-oakland-activists-fend-off-black-bloc-agents-provocateurs/

    Spocko has set out to ID the vandals: http://my.firedoglake.com/spocko/2011/11/03/time-to-identify-the-occupy-vandals/ Let’s help him.


    This wouldn’t be the first time an agent provocateur has tried to stir up trouble and violence just to make Occupy look bad: http://my.firedoglake.com/cgrapski/2011/10/09/american-standard-editor-admits-to-being-agent-provacateur-at-d-c-museum/

    • Phoenix — the problem is that most of the public will not ever make the distinction between the “real” OWS demonstrators and the provocateurs. The damage done to the credibility of the movement is the same. We’ve been going through this since the 1960s, and more recently Seattle 1999. Some of the anti-Iraq war demonstrations had some problems, also, which IMO is part of the reason the demonstrations never attracted more participants.

      This always happens, yet no one seems to plan or prepare for it. Why is that? Is it because no one wants to listen to the old folks who warn you to be careful?

  10. As for the polling, the Q poll is the very first one to reflect at all badly on OWS — so of course it’s the one the conservatives are trumpeting, even as they ignored every other OWS-related poll over the past month and a half.

    But if you’re the sort of person who never liked OWS anyway, it shouldn’t surprise people that you only focus on things that you think will damage it.

  11. “Going by personal experience, I’m confident they’ll be up to the task. When you need it most, there are folks who arrive to help you. And the thing that warms my heart is that they are very, very good at what they do.”

    I’ve heard their death knell gleefully (and falsely) tolled several times:

    –When they first had to move to Zuccotti because they weren’t allowed to use their original location (remember all the cries of “How can they claim to be occupying Wall Street now, har har har!”?).

    –When the first claims of violence came up (and were debunked).

    –When the first claims of antisemitism came up (and were debunked).

    –When the NYREB tried to change the law to keep Zuccotti from staying open 24/7 (it failed as the majority of neighbors to OWS said that they thought the police overreaction — the barricades, etc. — were more harmful to them than anything the protesters were doing: http://my.firedoglake.com/cindykouril/2011/10/20/real-estate-board-to-meet-tonight-to-try-to-outlaw-ows-sleeping-in-park/).

    –When the NYPD and NYFD took away their generators because they were a “fire hazard” (they’re now using bicycle generators: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amelia-marzec/bikepowered-generators-a-_b_1066574.html?ref=technology&ir=Technology)

    –When the NYPost claimed that OWS was turning away homeless from their kitchen (which was false: http://my.firedoglake.com/phoenix/2011/10/28/nypost-caught-lying-about-occupy-wall-street-food-edition/ )

    –And of course when the NYPD started sending homeless folk their way with the message “Take it to Zuccotti” (the OWS folks didn’t turn them away, but instead set up an improved security patrol and legal committee: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/02/protest-organizer-on-nypd-infiltrators-well-take-them/ http://my.firedoglake.com/cindykouril/2011/10/31/ows-the-legal-working-group/).

    About the one thing that could take down a particular Occupy location is if it’s hijacked or infiltrated from the very beginning. But the core movements, the ones that sprang up and grew strong before the PTBs started taking them seriously, aren’t in any danger of that happening; there are simply too many people in each of those for them to fall to co-optation.

    And now that the “black bloc” idiots who polluted the G-20 and the Oscar Grant protests have arrived, people who never liked OWS are now chanting variants of “This will doom them for sure! Yippee! That makes me right!” (And of course when a guy in a Mercedes runs a red light in Oakland, then runs over folks trying to stop him, FOX News makes him into a hero: http://my.firedoglake.com/phoenix/2011/11/03/gopmedia-complex-frantically-working-overtime-to-smear-occupy-movement/ )

  12. “Phoenix — the problem is that most of the public will not ever make the distinction between the “real” OWS demonstrators and the provocateurs.”

    They will if they’re told there is a difference. The AP wasn’t doing so, but NPR was. The problem is that the NPR has less of a reach than the AP.

    (By the way: The press was reporting about “protesters throwing bottles” during the first police teargas, rubber bullet, flash-bang and beanbag attack on the Occupy Oakland folks – and guess what? Turns out the protesters were throwing bottles of water to each other, to rinse the gas and pepper spray out of their eyes: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/10/25/state-of-the-occupation-tuesday-roundup/#comment-23898 )

    I remember when the “OWS is anti-semitic!” bullshit, one of the many things that was supposed to have killed OWS dead but didn’t, was going around. That died off soon, too.

    And also remember that the first time the press tried to use the violence of the Oakland protests against the Occupiers, it came out that the cops shot a flash-bang grenade at a group of protesters trying to help a fallen man; the grenade went off near his head and sent him to the hospital with brain injuries — and he was a Marine and Iraq war vet. (In other words, the cops broke your Bigger Asshole Rule — and yes, it doesn’t just work for people in 1963 dressed in their Sunday best of the period. In an era when people get skin piercings on their chest and are still gainfully employed in small-town areas — as the piercing-bedecked hotel clerk I encountered in La Crosse, Wisconsin two weeks ago showed — what freaked out the adults of 1968 barely elicits a glance from the adults of 2011.)

    It’s now also come out that last night in Oakland, a man ran a red light, then ran over a pair of protesters who tried to stop him from driving against the light and into the crowd; he then switched seats with his female passenger (perhaps to avoid getting a breathalyzer test should a cop have shown up?). This is the worst actual violence to have come out of last night, and it wasn’t committed by a protester, not even one of the “black bloc” fools.

    But that shouldn’t surprise anyone; a National Lawyers Guild study shows that most protest violence isn’t done by the protesters at all, but by persons opposed to them: http://my.firedoglake.com/phoenix/2011/10/09/nlg-cops-and-informants-cause-most-protest-violence/

    • They will if they’re told there is a difference.

      That information will reach only a tiny portion of those who hear about the violence.

      You don’t have to tell me that the majority of OWS demonstrators are committed to peaceful protest, that many of the reports are outright fabrications, or even that some of the troublemakers are trying to smear OWS. I do not doubt that is true. Most Americans will never know that, though. They will just hear about the violence. This is what happened to much of the antiwar movement in the 1960s. And it didn’t stop, e.g., the bogus “hippie protesters spitting on soldiers in airports” stories that didn’t even begin to circulate until a few years after Saigon fell.

      By now you should know that once the majority of people believe something to be true, all the debunking in the world will only make a tiny dent in the lies. I don’t like it, either, but that’s how it is.

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  14. “……..the OWS folks know they must remain as pure as Caesar’s wife”

    Yes, but as the “garden” expands, the weed infestation will also.
    Police brutality will most likely expand as the protesters increase in numbers.
    Being raised on fantasy, more protestors will be inclined to engage the cops (who are decked out in full spooky black riot gear).
    Young men, being young men, will want to kick some cop ass; and cops, being trained attack dogs, will at first, welcome the opportunity.

    This movement will pull the mask off the fantasy that we live in a democracy.
    The people at the top control the money and the power.
    Their patience will be short lived,as the recent words of Mayor of NYC reveal.
    ‘Hard to tell which direction will go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it mirrors what happened in Argentina , not so long ago.
    I think the movement may go dormant (with the exception of boycots and strikes) until the “fighting season” arrives in the spring.
    There are a lot of people who have lost just about everything they worked their whole lives for, and there are a lot of young people watching in disbelief as the “leaders” do everything in their power hobble the current administration( which appears to be as impotent as a gelded plowhorse.)
    There is no bright spot on the horizon, and we Americans generally want instant gratification.
    Rambo and The Terminator always out sell Ghandi and King at the box office.

    Many people have lost everything, and are now faced with the loss of unemployment insurance and health insurance.
    The right has done a remarkable job in convincing the FOX watchers that the plight of the poor and unemployed is of their own making.
    As the song goes, “I see a bad moon a-rising.”

  15. I’m in the middle of some of the most conservative voters in the country and the OWS movement is growing even in cold weather here. These people are the same ones who cheered Bush and his policies and they’re now outside protesting corporate America and more. Of course, they’ve also been impacted by record foreclosure and job losses too. If Republicans are out protesting, in cold winter weather, I don’t think is something that’s going to soon die.

    • Anthony — whereabouts in general are you? In the midwest someplace? My impression is that there are huge regional differences in what’s going on with OWS.

  16. The reason a line of lingerie is named “agent provocateur” is that testosterone- infused 18-25 year old males are easy to arouse.

    I think OWS is aware of this and will continue to learn how to deal with the corporate media.

    Maybe someday the truth will really set us free. Keep on keeping on, Maha.

  17. Perceptions (and preconceptions) have so much to do with views of reality.

    Letter-to-the-Editor in today’s local paper claimed “I don’t remember seeing offensive signs or riots during their [Tea Party’s] gatherings as Americans are now seeing during these so-called Wall Street marches.”

    One wonders where this person gets his news and what he considers “offensive.”

    The above was followed by a litany of the usual clap-trap imaginings [“lies”] of the racist haters (after carefully stating he resented being called a racist). He did make sure to announce he was a “Christian,” though obviously this person was mistaken.

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