The continuing back and forth of criticisms in tweets and speeches between President Donald Trump and four first-term Democratic Representatives, all women of color, has focused attention on issues of race, patriotism and socialism. Although socialist is a term that Americans may not understand very well, that’s how most Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll would label Democrats.
So would the president, who has linked the four women, and Democrats in general, to socialism in several recent tweets. However, Democrats (and to a lesser extent, independents) disagree with this assessment, though many see advantages in socialism: 41 percent of Democrats believe it would be good for the United States to move away from capitalism and toward socialism, and by more than two to one (52% to 19%), Democrats have a favorable opinion of socialism.
At least two proposals currently in the public discourse draw labels “socialism” from most Americans. Providing free college tuition (52%), and free health care for all (60%), are considered socialist and are two proposals that have the support of some of the men and women running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Conservatives are even more likely to call each of these proposals socialist (82 percent of conservatives say that’s what free health care for all would be, while 73 percent would say the same about free college tuition).
Nationally, one-third or more would label Social Security and Medicare socialism – though in these two cases, liberals are more likely to use that label.
The four Democratic Congresswomen the president has criticized (Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), get strong support from Democrats, but mixed and slightly negative reviews from the public overall, as they did last week.
Omar, who has been the special subject of the president’s attacks, receives much stronger support from Democrats this week than she did last week (54% have a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of Omar this week compared to 44% last week), but she now gets more negative ratings from Republicans (67% have a “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of Omar this week, compared to 57% last week).
Tlaib’s unfavorable rating among Republicans rose by 13 points this week, and Pressley’s jumped 22 points. AOC has been well-known since she entered Congress, and her ratings have seen little change. In this week’s poll, 35 percent have a favorable opinion of her and 38 percent are unfavorable. Democrats are nearly five times more likely to be favorable (64%) than unfavorable (13%) when it comes to the most visible member of the Squad. Republicans are more divided than usual.
Omar was the subject of a chant at a North Carolina Trump rally that urged the president to “Send Her Back!” Most Americans are aware of this chant and don’t like it. They say it is inappropriate to tell a naturalized citizen to go back where they came from, and also say this is racist.
Republicans disagree when it comes to calling it racist, and they are divided on whether or not it is appropriate. Republican women are slightly less likely than GOP men to call the chant appropriate. By 50 percent to 35 percent, Republicans under the age of 45 call it inappropriate, while those older are okay with it. More than a third of Republicans call themselves “very conservative.” This group found the chant appropriate, but other Republicans did not.
Republicans in all subgroups believe the chant is not racist.
Claims of racism have been made about the president himself and his tweets. In this poll, nearly twice as many people said they would use the word “racist” to describe the president than said they would not, while a third expressed no opinion. This result was in response to a question that asked respondents to review a list of words and say which they would use to describe the president and which they would definitely not use.
The division on this question is clearly partisan, but there are also differences by sex and particularly by race. Two-thirds of African-Americans would use the word “racist” to describe the president. Only 5% said they definitely would not.
The president has also tweeted “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country.” Patriotism itself is also partisan, with Republicans seeing Republicans as more patriotic, and Democrats saying the opposite.
Democrats are far more willing than Republicans to give their partisan opponents credit for being patriotic. Only 27 percent of Republicans say Democrats are even somewhat patriotic. Twice that percentage of Democrats credit Republicans with patriotism. However, majorities of both Democrats and Republicans in this poll agree that it is possible for someone to criticize President Trump (which the “Squad,” as well as many other Democrats have done) and still be patriotic.