Seventy percent of Democrats surveyed believe socialism would be good for America, according to a new Gallup poll.
In a late April survey, Gallup asked a random sample of 1,024 adults whether socialism would be a good thing or a bad thing for the country. Overall, 51 percent of respondents said socialism would be bad for the country, but 43 percent said it would be good.
According to Gallup, these results are in contrast with the findings of a 1942 Roper/Fortune poll. Forty percent of respondents in that poll said socialism was bad and 25 percent said it was good. At that time, 34 percent did not have an opinion.
In its recent poll, Gallup found a stark contrast in how members of different political parties viewed socialism. Although 70 percent of Democrats said socialism would be good compared to 45 percent of independents and only 13 percent of Republicans viewing it positively.
Eighty-four percent of Republicans said socialism would be bad, against 48 percent of independents and only 25 percent of Democrats.
Support for socialism was highest among non-whites polled (57 percent), respondents 18-34 (58 percent) and those who identify themselves as liberal (85 percent).
Opposition to socialism peaked among whites (59 percent), respondents over 55 (60 percent) and those who identify as conservative (78 percent).
Gallup included questions to ascertain exactly what socialism meant to those responding, noting that “nearly one in four” Americans associates socialism with social equality and only 17 percent define it “with the more classical definition of having some degree of government control over the means of production.”
“Americans are most likely to prefer free market control in the areas of technological innovation and the distribution of wealth. Majorities also want the free market to drive the economy overall, wages, higher education and healthcare,” Gallup reported.
“Preference for the government to serve as the primarily responsible actor only garners majority support for protecting online consumer privacy and the environment.”
The Gallup report said Americans’ contradictory views “make it hard to generalize a simplistic conclusion about Americans’ opinions of, and willingness to entertain, socialism. But there are a few clear takeaways. About four in 10 Americans are accepting of some form of socialism or socialist policies, and Democrats currently have a more positive view of socialism than capitalism.”
The poll comes as political figures offering widely different views on socialism.
“Here in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” President Donald Trump said in his February State of the Union message.
In an interview with Business Insider in late December, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said the definition of socialism is changing.
“So when millennials talk about concepts like democratic socialism, we’re not talking about these kinds of ‘Red Scare’ boogeyman. We’re talking about countries and systems that already exist that have already been proven to be successful in the modern world.”
Gallup noted that support for socialism could be a factor in the 2020 presidential election.
“In addition, the April survey found that 47% of Americans say they would vote for a socialist candidate for president. While that figure represents nearly half of the U.S. adult population, even higher percentages say they would vote for an atheist (58%) or Muslim (60%) presidential candidate,” Gallup said in its report.
In a separate statement, Gallup noted that support for a socialist candidate was centered on one side if the political spectrum.
“[T]hree in four Democrats (74%) say they would support a self-identified socialist, up from 59% in 2015,” Gallup reported
“Meanwhile, socialist candidates remain unpopular among the GOP rank-and-file — 19% would vote for a socialist for president, down from 26% in 2015. Just 49% of independents would vote for a socialist, a potential problem for the Democrats if they nominate a left-leaning candidate who supports socialist-style programs,” Gallup said.
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