Gallup Poll: Democrats View Socialism More Positively Than Capitalism by 10 Points

Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty Images

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Democrats view socialism better than capitalism by a significant margin, according to a new Gallup poll, with 57 percent viewing socialism in a positive light against just 47 percent viewing capitalism positively.

The poll shows a stark drop in Democrat's attitude toward capitalism over the past two years, with Democrats going from 56 percent viewing it positively in 2016 to 47 percent in 2018.

Their attitudes toward socialism are largely unchanged from the poll last year; 57 percent view it positively now versus 58 percent in 2016, when democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) mounted a strong bid for the Democratic nomination for president. In 2010, 53 percent of Democrats viewed socialism positively.

There's also been a significant decline in how younger Americans view capitalism. In 2010, 68 percent of those aged 18 to 29 viewed capitalism positively, but only 45 percent viewed it positively in 2018.

Republicans are far more likely to view capitalism in a good light, with 71 percent saying they have a positive view in the Gallup survey. Just 16 percent say they view socialism positively. Those numbers are similar to 2010, when 72 percent of Republicans had a positive view of capitalism, and 17 percent had a positive view of socialism.

Gallup noted the question wording does not define "socialism" or "capitalism" but simply "asks respondents whether their opinion of each is positive or negative."

The company surmised that Democrats' negative feelings toward capitalism had been accelerated by business-friendly President Donald Trump, as well as the ascension of such politicians as Sanders and fellow democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

The majority of Democrats have viewed socialism positively each time Gallup has measured the concept since 2010, and — despite the increased visibility given to the concept this year — those views have not changed substantively. But the drop in Democrats' positive views of capitalism this year has for the first time left Democrats more positive about socialism as a concept than about capitalism.

It's possible that the drop in Democrats' positive views of capitalism is related to Donald Trump's presidency. Trump is an enthusiastic capitalist, and his administration's efforts to roll back regulations on business and industry, as well as the tax cut law that is advantageous to businesses and corporations, may have caused Democrats to view the entire capitalist enterprise with less positive eyes.

The 2020 White House race is likely to further expose tensions within the Democratic Party over what ideology it wants to embrace. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) is a progressive darling in the party, but she has recently defended her capitalist bonafides in interviews. Warren, known as a scourge of Wall Street, recently told CNBC "I am a capitalist, come on!"

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