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Meme Wars: The 99 Percent vs the 53 Percent

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 7 2011

In the wake of the rapid spread of the "We are the 99 Percent" meme, on October 5th, right-wing blogger Erick Erickson started a "We are the 53 Percent" response. One side says that the top 1 percent of the population has too much concentrated wealth and power; the other side says that nearly half the population doesn't pay income taxes and is making unfair claims on the output of the 53 percent who do.

That's not an argument we're going to settle here. But we can shed light on which meme is doing better online. For example, in terms of organic interest, "We are the 99 percent" has consistently been topping "We are the 53 percent" on Google search.

The same goes if you phrase the search in the first person, which one might think the 53-percenters would be more inclined to do.

It's notable that searches for both phrases seems to be dropping at the moment. Could it be that America's longstanding attention deficit disorder, which seems to preclude us from focusing on any issue for longer than a few weeks, is kicking in? Or, is this just the Kardashian divorce effect? (I know, same thing.)

In terms of sheer activity on the opposing Tumblr sites dedicated to collecting and sharing stories from these two differing perspectives, the 99-percenters also appear to have the edge there. Not only are there roughly four times as many submissions on the 99 percent site, there are about four times as many notes per post. (I counted 274 notes on 33 archived posts on the 53-percent site vs 1147 on the same number of archived posts on the 99-percent site.) This means that, roughly speaking, Tumblr users are seeing and sharing personal messages from 99-percenters at a substantially higher rate than 53-percenters.

More meme-tracking fun:
Number of Google search hits for "We are the 53 percent" on FoxNews.com: 5410
Number of Google search hits for "We are the 99 percent" on FoxNews.com: 35

Number of Google search hits for "We are the 53 percent" on MSNBC.msn.com: 8
Number of Google search hits for "We are the 99 percent" on MSNBC.msn.com: 995

Number of Google search hits for "We are the 53 percent" on CNN.com: 6
Number of Google search hits for "We are the 99 percent" on CNN.com: 15,200

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