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Democrats favor socialism over capitalism for the first time, poll shows

A Gallup poll shows that more Democrats favor socialism than favor capitalism. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Democrats now view socialism more positively than capitalism, according to a new Gallup poll that comes as self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist politicians capture the party's attention.

The poll could add to a growing debate about the trajectory of the Democratic Party, which has seen increased energy around socialist movements and more candidates willing to step out on that economic platform, according to Frank Newport of Gallup:

"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."

Breaking down the numbers

While the poll numbers among Republicans predictably show a highly positive view of capitalism and a generally negative view of socialism, the Democratic results reveal a trend of changing attitudes.

In 2010, the first time Gallup asked respondents about their views on capitalism and socialism, 53 percent of Democrats had a positive view of capitalism, and 53 percent had a positive view of socialism.

In 2018, only 47 percent of Democrats have a positive view of capitalism, while 57 percent have a positive view of socialism — the first time socialism has eclipsed capitalism in this metric.

The numbers show that the shifting Democratic view of economics could have as much to do with a displeasure with capitalism as it does with an excitement about socialism, particularly among young adults. Newport writes:

"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."

Of course, that could have a lot to do with President Donald Trump, whose heavy emphasis on capitalist economic policies could be turning Democrats off to capitalism. From the report:

"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."


This poll was conducted by telephone from July 30 through Aug. 5 among a random sample of 1,505 adults age 18 and older.

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