Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
We already knew more Americans support the Occupy Wall Street protests than support the Tea Party movement. A new analysis by Google suggests people find it more interesting, too.
A post on Google’s Politics & Elections blog examines web search trends related to the two movements. Google’s analysts find that search interest for Occupy Wall Street surged ahead of that for the tea party as early as Sept. 24, before the protests had really spread nationwide.
The disparity has widened since then, with OWS-related searches peaking on Oct. 15, when a “global day of action” brought demonstrations worldwide. Interest in the movement has subsided somewhat since then, the data show, though it still easily outpaces that of the Tea Party. When compared with the height of interest in the Tea Party movement, in 2009, the gap is narrower, but Occupy Wall Street still outdoes its more conservative counterpart.
A geographic visualization feature reveals some surprises in where the searches are coming from. The state most interested in learning about the protests is not New York, the movement’s home base, but Vermont. Oregon is second, and New York is third.
What exactly are people searching for? Many just want to understand what the demonstrations are about, it seems: The top search term is “what is occupy.”
All the interest is understandable given a new New York Times/CBS poll that finds Americans’ approval of Congress at a dismal 9 percent. Forty-six percent of respondents said they believe that the sentiment behind the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects most Americans’ views. That’s significantly higher than the 27 percent who said the same about the Tea Party in a similar poll conducted in February.