Poll: Americans Prefer Capitalism to Socialism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders - collage.
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A majority of Americans disagree with socialists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), telling pollsters capitalism is superior.

Fox News gave registered voters a choice of what message they would like to send to the federal government, and 55 percent responded, “leave me alone.”

Only about a third — 34 percent — picked “lend me a hand.”

Those 55 percent wanting freedom from government control were up from 51 percent in 2018 and 54 percent in 2016. The number of those wanting a government handout was also down from 41 percent last year and 39 percent in 2016.

Fifty-seven percent of voters had a “positive opinion” of capitalism, the poll found:

That’s more than twice the number who feel the same about socialism (25 percent).  Some of the groups most likely to have a favorable view of socialism include self-identified liberals (50 percent), Clinton voters (43 percent), and those under age 30 (36 percent).

“Despite the prominence of socialistic ideas and policy proposals in recent weeks, Americans are favorable toward the merits of the capitalistic system,” Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson, said. “And they’re bullish on the state of the economy.”

Almost four out of five voters thought their families either achieved the American dream (38 percent) or were working toward reaching it (40 percent).

Only one in five believed the American Dream was out of reach (18 percent).

The poll also revealed that the majority of Americans were optimistic about the economy — 63 percent, up from 49 percent in 2016.

“By a 47–42 percent margin, voters think capitalism in the U.S. gives them a ‘fair shot,’” Fox reported on its poll, which included a breakdown by gender and race:

However, men (58 percent) are 21 points more likely than women (37 percent) to say capitalism is a level playing field.”  Similarly, whites (52 percent) are 19 points more likely than nonwhites (33 percent), and voters ages 45 and over (54 percent) are 17 points more inclined than those under age 45 (37 percent) to feel they are getting a fair deal.

“This is not a ringing endorsement of capitalism in our country when less than half of Americans feel they have a fair shot,” Anderson said. “If the debate over what is best for America devolves into fearmongering and labeling socialists, no one wins.”

“But when less than half say they have a fair shot, there is clearly an opening for new policy ideas,” Anderson said.

The number of Americans who think people rely too much on the federal government has been down since 2013, when 74 percent felt that way. Sixty-one percent thought that was the case in this poll.

The partisan view of capitalism seemed to reflect the real world, with 72 percent of Republicans having a positive view of capitalism and only 47 percent of Democrats:

By a 25-point margin, more Republicans (72 percent) than Democrats (47 percent) have a positive view of capitalism.  Moreover, Republicans (54 percent) are three times as likely as Democrats (17 percent) to have a “strongly” favorable view.

“Most Republicans, 84 percent, think Americans rely too much on government,” Fox reported on its poll. “That’s changed little since 2013 when it was 87 percent.”

“In contrast, there has been a major shift among Democrats: 38 percent say Americans are too dependent, down from 58 percent five years ago.”

The poll was conducted February 10–12, 2019, through landline and cellphone interviews, with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

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