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Google trends: higher online interest in Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have continued across the nation for yet another week, a Google Trends analysis of online search patterns indicates that interest is higher in this more recent movement than in the Tea Party.

"Search interest for [Occupy Wall Street] jumped ahead of the [Tea Party] on September 24 and hasn't looked back. In a historical context, when viewing the snapshot of their nasccent birth, we can see the peak of [Occupy Wall Street] has slighly more interest in American than searches for the [Tea Party] did during the groups peak in 2009," a blog post on the topic said.

Google said that, originally, the Occupy movement saw its first spark of interest on September 16 of this year and peaked one month later on October 15. Surprisingly, New York (the birthplace of the Occupy movement) doesn't top the list when it comes to searches. Instead, the top three places for the Occupy movement include Vermont, Oregon, and New York (in that order).

While the peak in searches for the Occupy movement hit only recently, it's also noteworthy that online interest for the Tea Party remains timely. Each year since the Tea Party movement started, search interest has peaked in April around the tax filing deadline- an all but predictable pattern given the movement's core belief.

Even though the current online picture shows that interest is higher for the Occupy movement than the Tea Party, Google noted that it's almost a dead heat with the Tea Party when it comes to a side-by-side comparison. Between October 7 and last week, Occupy Wall Street barely bested the Tea Party when it came to the number of news pieces covering each movement. According to "Advanced Search in Google News," the Occupy movement was ahead by 29,000 to 22,000.

In measuring this data about the two movements, there's at least one factor that stands out when considering the number of people interested in them. While more internet users might be interested in the current Occupy movement, Google's analysis didn't measure how much sentiment surrounding it was positive versus negative. This is a key factor when postulating whether any of these movements can gain enough traction to make an impact in the upcoming presidential election.

There's at least a sense of where American sentiment stands at the moment, and it seems to be mixed. In one public opinion poll, many held a negative view of the Tea Party's effectiveness. At the same time, there's also an indication that the public is not completely on board with Occupy movement. That's seen in yet another poll which says, contrary to the Occupy movement's core belief, that the federal government is more to blame for the current financial crisis than Wall Street bankers.

Despite this latest analysis not factoring in positive or negative sentiment, it does underscore the important role that the internet plays in keeping people actively engaged in these movements. With media coverage remaining roughly the same for both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, it's the internet that continues to be the prime catalyst for keeping them alive and well.

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