Anti-bank protesters are failing to Occupy American hearts and minds, according to Public Policy Polling. A new survey (conducted before Thursday's highly publicized and divisive "Day of Action" protest in Manhattan) found that only 33 percent of Americans support Occupy Wall Street's goals, while 45 percent oppose them. A month ago, 35 percent backed the anti-bank protesters, while 36 percent didn't. Support dropped two points, while opposition rose 9 points, for a swing of 11 points in just a month. Why are people souring on the Occupy movement? Here, four theories:
1. People are disgusted with protesters' behavior
The media gushed about the Occupy encampments at first, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, but the "coverage began to shift as the crowds got more out of control." Lately, once-sympathetic reporters "were forced by circumstance to cover violence in Oakland and New York," not to mention the unsettling establishment of "rape-free zones" in some of the camps. No wonder more and more people want nothing to do with Occupiers.
2. Right-wing propaganda is working
The Occupy movement's image problem is a direct result of "right-wing propaganda" aiming to depict Occupiers as "sub-human beasts," says Digby at Hullabaloo. "The drumbeat has been loud and constant," so it was "almost inevitable that the notion would take hold among some people." And the spectacle of "heavily armed Robo Cops swarming all over our cities as if they were staging an assault on Falluja" was bound to make spectators nervous. "That's not an accident either."
3. Many Americans are just starting to pay attention
"The flatness of the movement's support, versus the rise in opposition, tells me that people who didn't have an opinion before are now making their minds up about OWS," says Tommy Christopher at Mediaite. The coverage of police clashes has something to do with that. "To the disengaged mind, the human tendency to crave order and conformity easily overtakes the details. If there's a fight involving the police, the police must be right." But Occupy shouldn't worry. "By definition, protests are designed to fight the power. If the majority of Americans were awake to what these protests signify, there would be no need for them."
4. The protesters are too focused on protesting
There's been far too much Occupying lately, and not enough Wall Street, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. Occupiers are dropping the ball by spending all their time and effort just protesting. "This is going to have to morph into a political movement rather than a mob scene" if the protesters want to capitalize on the attention they've "brought to the issue of income inequality." Otherwise, the movement can expect its support to plummet even further.