Poll: Majority of Americans Would Not Support a Socialist Candidate

Democratic Socialists of America march in downtown Berkeley, Calif., on Aug. 5, 2018. (Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images)
Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

The majority of Americans would not support a socialist candidate, a Gallup poll released on Tuesday showed.

The survey, which polled 1,033 adults January 16-29, 2020, asked respondents:

Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates — their education, age, religion, race and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?

Socialism is the only characteristic that garnered less than majority support, with only 45 percent indicating they could support a socialist candidate. A majority, 53 percent, said they could not back such a candidate.

A majority of Democrats, 76 percent, are willing to support a socialist candidate, but less than half of independents, 46 percent, indicated that they could support a socialist. The opposition is strongest among Republicans, with only 17 percent indicating that they could support a socialist.

As Gallup details:

Democrats express at least somewhat more willingness than Republicans to support most of the candidate types tested, with the widest gaps seen for Muslims, atheists and socialists. While at least two in three Democrats say they would vote for presidential candidates with these profiles, support among Republicans drops to just over 40% for Muslims and atheists, and to only 17% for socialists.

The survey included a variety of other characteristics to choose from.

An overwhelming majority of respondents — over 90 percent — indicated that they would support a candidate who is Catholic, Jewish, black, Hispanic, or a woman. Eighty-percent indicated that they would support an evangelical Christian, and 78 percent said they would support a candidate if he or she identified as gay or lesbian.

Over half of respondents also indicated that they would support their candidate if he or she was a Muslim, atheist, over the age of 40, or younger than 40. Socialism is the only characteristic that garnered less than majority support.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

The results come as a Democrat socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), leads the Democrat primary field. He has surpassed Joe Biden (D) in the RealClearPolitics’ rolling national average, with 23 percent to Biden’s 20.4 percent.

Sanders long refrained from using the word “socialism” to describe his views, telling the University of Vermont’s Vermont Cynic in 1976 that “people have been brainwashed into thinking socialism automatically means slave-labor camps, dictatorship and lack of freedom of speech.”

Sanders tried to explain his position last year, telling the National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition, “What I mean by democratic socialist is that I want a vibrant democracy.” However, he admitted that his vision involved the extreme redistribution of wealth — a hallmark of socialist ideology.

“Second of all, what it means … is that the wealthiest country in the history of the world we can provide a decent standard of living for all … people,” Sanders explained. “That’s just the reality.”

Many of his plans — including Medicare for All and his Green New Deal — involve massive government growth, excessive taxation, and redistribution.

President Trump recently referred to Sanders as a “communist,” which Sanders denied. In his rebuttal, the socialist senator argued that “in many respects, we are a socialist society today,” citing tax breaks for the fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industry.

“The difference between my socialism and Trump’s socialism is I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires,” Sanders said during a February appearance on Fox News Sunday.

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