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Exit polling shows Democratic primary voters with favorable views of socialism


Good news for Bernie Sanders?

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Exit polling seems to suggest that Democratic primary voters are not, on the whole, as opposed to the idea of a socialist nominee as some have supposed.

NBC News conducted exit polling in the four Super Tuesday states of Texas, California, North Carolina, and Tennessee and found that in each of them, more Democratic primary voters said they had favorable views of socialism than unfavorable views.

Socialism enjoyed wide margins of Democratic voter support in Texas and California, the surveys found, with favorable/unfavorable breakdowns of 57% to 37% in the Lone Star State and 53% to 33% in the Golden State. However, its support among primary voters in the two southern states was considerably slimmer, with a 48% to 42% favorable/unfavorable breakdown in North Carolina and a 47% to 44% disparity in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, exit polling reported by the Washington Post found that, among Democratic primary voters in Maine, "favorable views of socialism outnumbered unfavorable roughly 2 to 1."

However, it's important to take exit polling with a grain of salt. Case in point: Despite socialism's purported net favorability among North Carolina Democratic voters, it wasn't enough to give Sanders a Super Tuesday win in the Tar Heel State, which multipleoutlets called for former Vice President Joe Biden shortly after the polls closed at 7:30.

But regardless of how well or poorly the idea of socialism might play with Democratic primary voters between now and the party's convention, there's still the question of how Sanders' ideology and image will play with general election voters heading into November. And some of the polling on that question doesn't look too good.

Gallup polling from last month found that a 53% percent majority of Americans say they would not vote for a socialist for president. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released the following week, some 67% of voters said that they either "had some reservations" (21%) or were "very uncomfortable" (46%) about a socialist candidate. Last week, a Fox News poll found that while 28% of voters had a favorable attitude about socialism, 58% viewed it unfavorably.

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