DES MOINES, Iowa (The Blaze/AP) — With several attention-grabbing protests before Iowa’s caucuses, Occupy Wall Street activists proved their movement did not end when its encampments in big cities dispersed. But they also showed the group hasn’t matured into a political force, and it’s not clear whether it will become a liberal counterweight to the tea party this election year.


Following Tuesday’s vote in Iowa, on which the movement had little impact, Occupy organizers are pledging to stage more protests in New Hampshire and South Carolina as the presidential nomination process moves east. But the smaller-than-expected crowds, a muddled message that was mostly ignored by candidates, and tactics that seem to limit their appeal raised questions about its long-term viability.


“This is a sign that the way they have been trying to do it probably isn’t going to work,” said Dave Petersen, director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State University, who said Occupy’s only discernible impact was tighter-than-usual security at Republican events. He said the group needed to develop leaders and a more coherent message if it wanted to make the transition from a grassroots movement to an electoral powerhouse. [...]


In New Hampshire, which holds its primary election Jan. 10, Occupy protesters are planning a gay pride parade Saturday and a “funeral for the American dream” outside a candidate debate the same day. They expect hundreds of activists from along the East Coast to join their events.