A Gallup poll released Monday finds that – for the first time in the poll company’s data collection over the past decade – Democrats view socialism more positively than capitalism.
The current survey demonstrates only 47 percent of Democrats view capitalism positively, a drop from 56 percent in 2016. Democrats’ view of socialism, however, has remained positive since 2010, with 57 percent having a positive perspective.
Meanwhile, Republicans have remained positive about capitalism, with 71 percent taking that perspective and only 16 percent stating they have a positive view of socialism.
The poll finds younger Americans have shown the greatest decline in positive views of capitalism. Among those aged 18 to 29, only 45 percent are positive about capitalism today – a drop from 57 percent in 2016.
“This represents a 12-point decline in young adults’ positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68% viewed it positively,” Gallup states.
Older Americans view capitalism more positively than socialism. Of those in the 30-49 age group, 58 percent view capitalism positively as opposed to 41 percent who view socialism positively. Among 50-64-year-olds, 60 percent see capitalism as positive, while 30 percent view socialism positively. Finally, 60 percent of those 65 and older have a positive view of capitalism, while 28 percent have a positive view of socialism.
The talk about the Democratic Party moving more toward socialist policies in its platforms in this year’s midterm elections was muted with the failure of several socialist candidates to capture their party’s nomination in recent primary voting. And, although a majority – even if not an overwhelming one – of Democrats nationwide react positively to the word “socialism,” the strong antipathy toward socialism among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents suggests a political campaign favorable to socialism would not play well in a general election.
The survey finds that, when asked in 2018 whether they have a positive or negative image of a list of economic terms, most Americans are positive about small business (92 percent), entrepreneurs (86 percent), and free enterprise (79 percent). The percentage of Americans who say they are positive about big business and the federal government is 50 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
“Despite the increasing prominence of socialism in the public discourse in recent years, little has changed in Americans’ attitudes toward the concept at the national level,” Gallup says. “Americans’ positive views of socialism have varied only between 35% and 39%, with this year’s reading of 37% right at the trend average.”
The poll is based on telephone interviews conducted between July 30 and August 5 with a random sample of 1,505 adults. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus three percentage points.