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For first time U.S Democrats more positive about socialism than capitalism

Staff Writer |
For the first time in Gallup's measurement over the past decade, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism.

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Attitudes toward socialism among Democrats have not changed materially since 2010, with 57% today having a positive view.

The major change among Democrats has been a less upbeat attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47% positive this year - lower than in any of the three previous measures.

Republicans remain much more positive about capitalism than about socialism, with little sustained change in their views of either since 2010.

These results are from Gallup interviewing conducted July 30-Aug. 5. Views of socialism among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are particularly important in the current political environment because many observers have claimed the Democratic Party is turning in more of a socialist direction.

Socialist Bernie Sanders competitively challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, and more recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a candidate with similar policy views and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won the Democratic nomination in New York's 14th Congressional District.

Several candidates with socialist leanings lost their primary bids in Aug. 7 voting, however, raising doubts about the depth of Democrats' embrace of socialism.

The current survey is the fourth time Gallup has measured Americans' overall views of capitalism and socialism in this format. The question wording does not define "socialism" or "capitalism" but simply asks respondents whether their opinion of each is positive or negative.

Democrats' and Republicans' sharply contrasting views of the two economic systems are not unexpected, given the history of the two parties. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have notably positive views of capitalism and negative views of socialism.

Democrats, by contrast, are less unified in their views, but by 10 percentage points are more positive about socialism than about capitalism.

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.

Older Americans have been consistently more positive about capitalism than socialism. For those 50 and older, twice as many currently have a positive view of capitalism as of socialism.

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