How Do Americans View “Socialism” and “Capitalism?”

A huge poll just came out asking Americans their feelings towards various bucket political terms, including “socialism,” “capitalism,” and “libertarianism.”  I doubt the results mean much, since people define have different definitions in their heads of these terms. 

But, FWIW, some findings from the poll show that public opinion is all all over the place, with “socialism” more popular than you’d think and “capitalism” taking a hit, probably due to the deep recession (so it may be temporary).

  • Overall, 29% say they have a positive reaction to the word “socialism,” while 59% react negatively. The public’s impressions of “capitalism,” though far more positive, are somewhat mixed. Slightly more than half (52%) react positively to the word “capitalism,” compared with 37% who say they have a negative reaction.
  • Reaction to “capitalism” is lukewarm among many demographic groups. Fewer than half of young people, women, people with lower incomes and those with less education react positively to “capitalism.”
  • “Socialism” is despised by Republicans, better among Democrats — duh.
  • Weirdly, “libertarianism” is viewed more negatively by Republicans than by Democrats.

The political opinions we form in our youth tend to carry forward the rest of our lives.  What does young people’s warmer feeling towards “socialism,” whatever they think they mean, augur for the future?


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