Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Socialism, Just Ten Percent Are in Favor

FORT DODGE, IA - MAY 04: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a town hall at the Fort Museum on May 4, 2019 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Sanders has been campaigning in the state of Iowa for the past several days. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

A Monmouth University poll released on Monday showed that only ten percent of Americans have a positive view of socialism.

The poll, broadly titled “SOCIALISM vs. CAPITALISM,” took a hard look at the sentiments of U.S. citizens regarding the rising popularity of Bernie Sanders-styled socialism in American politics. With few qualifiers, the results were clear: 57 percent of Americans said that socialism was incompatible with American values — only 29 percent believed otherwise.

As far as feelings toward socialism in general, the waters were only a little murkier: 42 percent had negative feelings toward it, 45 percent were neutral, and just ten percent had a positive view of this latest trend in progressive politics. However, their feelings toward capitalism were similarly lukewarm. Thirty-nine percent expressed a positive opinion of capitalism, 40 percent were neutral, and 17 percent were negative.

According to the poll:

Taken together, Americans divide into two dominant camps – 29% who have a positive view of capitalism and a negative view of socialism and 30% who have neutral opinions of both capitalism and socialism.  The remaining 4-in-10 Americans hold a range of mixed views on the two economic systems.

Another question specifically examining the subject of a “universal health care system” found that the idea is being disassociated with socialist philosophy. Fifty-eight percent of Americans expressed approval of the concept, and 53 percent asserted that it was not a socialist policy. The inconsistencies suggest to some that, while socialism remains stigmatized in America, its actual definition in the public eye may be evolving.

“We may be in a period of flux with how these economic systems are viewed,” said Monmouth’s Patrick Murray. “Socialism still carries a stigma, but many Americans feel they are being left behind by the current capitalist system. Policies that have traditionally been seen as socialist may be getting more popular even if the term itself is not.”

“We shouldn’t ignore the possibility that ‘neutral’ could be a way for some Americans, especially Democrats, to couch their policy preferences without using a term that has historically negative connotations,” he continued. “This is going to be a real challenge for left-leaning candidates in the 2020 presidential race. The party base seems to be saying, ‘We like your platform, just don’t use the word socialism to describe it.’”

The poll was conducted between April 11 and 15 from a pool of 801 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The rest of the country will have their chance to demonstrate an opinion at the ballots in 2020.

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