Mike, you're taking that information you're adding to LR's out of context.
You present that data as if it meant that there was another poll taken at the same time that suggested that the protesters showed a different and perhaps lower level of popularity. That may in fact be true, about the levels, but it appears you have the sequence wrong, and that the two polls may well show that there is an increase in popularity at a fairly rapid rate.
This is difficult to tease out because all the details are not given, but it appears that way.
Beyond that, and perhaps more to the point, Popularity may have an effect in an election, but we have no election for over a year and we don't have a Republican candidate or even, formally, a Democratic candidate. You can, with some conviction, say that the Tea Party affected congress for this past term, and I would agree with you. One question that you haven't asked, and which may have some relevance is this: Is one of those effects the presence of these demonstrators and the anger they have about what seems to be going on in Congress these days, in part at the behest of the Tea Party?
If that wasn't part of the subtext of the movement, what reason would there be to run them down, to denigrate them, to make assertions about the demographics about the group on the basis of junk science and unsystematically gathered data, and to try to tie this group in with other groups that the right wing hopes the public as a whole dislikes? The Brits have a Screaming Looney Party, which many people are rather fond of. I am for one. Nobody tries to run them into the ground or treat them cruelly.
If the demonstrators were as odd and useless as the right have been painting them, then we'd be having a fine old time here with certified court jesters. But we're not, are we?
The right, for all its sarcasm, takes these folks very seriously indeed, and what we folks on the left should be asking ourselves, with equal seriousness, is "why?"
For all the flaws and problems that these folks have, and certainly they've got to have their fair share, what is it about them that drives the Right into this state of frenzied response and brings out the race-baiting side of them ("They aren't representative of the nation as a whole!" "They're all whites!" as though they haven't been trying to actively eliminate blacks from the voting rolls in states like Florida and Ohio for years!) so floridly? The left needs to give considerable thought about what produces that hysteria on the right, because that is something the Right is very much afraid of.
We of the left must make a real point of defining that thing for ourselves, in our own language and in our own terms, and we must not let the right get out in front on this. No more defining the liberation of women as being a "feminazi;" no more talking about the economic safety net as "entitlements;" no more talking about affordable health care for everybody as "A government takeover."
This one we should try to define ourselves.