How America's views on socialism and capitalism are changing

Jamie BallardData Journalist
August 07, 2018, 2:00 PM GMT+0

31% of Democrats say they would be “comfortable” with a socialist presidential candidate

With politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon calling themselves “Democratic Socialists,” American attitudes on socialism and capitalism may be shifting, according to new data from YouGov Omnibus.

When asked about capitalism, 44% of Americans say they have a favorable view. This number has fallen since 2015, when over half (52%) said that they had a favorable view of capitalism.

In contrast, Americans are exactly equally as likely to have a favorable view of socialism now (26%) as they were in 2015 (26%), though people who are 65 years or older are considerably more likely to take a positive view of socialism now (25%) compared to 2015 (15%).

When asked how they would feel about a presidential candidate describing themselves as a socialist – as 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has done – one in five (22%) people say they would be “comfortable” with it and 7% would be “enthusiastic” about it.

There were some notable political differences along party lines. Among Democrats, 31% say they would be “comfortable” with a socialist candidate, compared to only 8% of Republicans who chose the same answer.

Younger people were also more likely to have positive feelings about a self-described socialist candidate, with nearly one-third (30%) saying they would be comfortable with it. Only 12% of people 65 or older felt the same way.

While some politicians and citizens are happy to call themselves socialists, about one-third (31%) of people think that the word is generally meant as an insult. Only 8% think calling someone a socialist is intended to be a compliment, while 32% say it’s a neutral term.

Only 15% of Americans between 18 and 29 think “socialist” is an insult, in contrast with people who are 65 or older, 43% of whom say the term is an insult. The 18-29 demographic (13%) is also more than twice as likely as the 65+ crowd (5%) to say that “socialist” is a compliment.

Overall, Americans were far more likely to think that calling someone a capitalist is a compliment, with 19% choosing this answer.

See full results here and 2015 results here.

Learn more about YouGov Omnibus.

Image: Getty

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