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Poll: Democrats Favor Socialism Over Capitalism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (daddyodilly /Flickr Creative Commons).

Democrats in 2018 feel more positive toward socialism than capitalism, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated they had a positive view of socialism, a percentage that has not changed drastically since 2010. “The major change,” Gallup reports, “has been a less upbeat attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47% positive this year—lower than in any of the three previous measures.”

The survey is the fourth time Gallup has measured views of socialism among Democrats in this poll. It specifies that the question’s “wording does not define ‘socialism’ or ‘capitalism’ but simply asks respondents whether their opinion of each is positive or negative.”

The sharpest contrasts in views of socialism, the survey revealed, were between older and younger Americans, on both sides of the political aisle:

Americans aged 18 to 29 are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%). 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. Meanwhile, young people’s views of socialism have fluctuated somewhat from year to year, but the 51% with a positive view today is the same as in 2010.

These poll results have been building slowly since the 2016 election, Gallup infers, starting with Bernie Sanders’ competitive challenge to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

The month after Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump, membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) surged; six times as many people joined in November 2016 as in the previous month.

In November 2017, DSA-backed candidates won 15 races on election night, in states from Virginia to Montana, as reported by Slate. Most were local wins, except for that of Lee Carter, a 30-year-old Marine veteran who beat his Republican opponent for a Virginia House of Delegates seat by nine points. In Pennsylvania in May, four DSA-backed candidates won their primaries.

Then, on June 26, first-time, DSA-backed candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley in a New York primary race, and the DSA surpassed 40,000 members. A day after Ocasio-Cortez’s win, 1,152 people joined, 35 times the normal number for one day, as The Hill reported in July.

Gallup points out that these results may not translate to winning more national elections: “Several candidates with socialist leanings lost their primary bids in Aug. 7 voting, raising doubts about the depth of Democrats’ embrace of socialism.”

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