Occupy vs. Tea Party: The Google Smackdown


In the battle for America’s attention, the Occupy movement rocketed past the tea party this fall and remains in the lead, though not by much anymore. Here’s a chart from Google Trends comparing the dueling movements’ Google hits (top graph) and news mentions (bottom graph):

(The letters A-F are automatically generated by Google Trends)

Here’s my best guess of what accounts for the peaks:

A: Congress reaches a debt ceiling compromise, capping a wave of stories about the intransigence of the tea party caucus.

B: Citing sanitation concerns, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatens to evict Occupy Wall Street. But after occupiers scrub down the park and thousands of sympathizers turn out to defend them, the mayor backs down.

E: Occupy Wall Street is evicted.

So the occupy movement has gradually fallen off the front pages, but what about the political issues it brought to light? The following graphs suggest that “income inequality” continues to rival “federal debt” as a leading point of conversation, especially in the news media:

B: Culmination of the federal debt ceiling fight

D to E: The heyday of OWS coverage

F: Obama’s State of the Union address focuses on income inequality.

Though these charts have limits as barometers of public sentiment, the Occupy and tea party movements are clearly locked in a close race for attention. If anything, the charts might overstate the influence of the the tea party, which is getting a bump right now as the media obsesses over the GOP presidential primaries. And if Occupy makes good on its plans for an American Spring, it could easily hit the front pages again.

Of course, getting attention isn’t the same as getting results. Just ask Ron Paul, who easily bests his rivals in Google hits despite having virtually no chance of winning the GOP nomination. The question for activists and politicos is how grow the Occupy movement into a formula for change. The answer to that probably can’t be found on Google. 

Front page image: Roxanne Jo Mitchell; David Shankbone

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate