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Democrats View Socialism More Favorably Than Capitalism: Gallup

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021 - 04:20 PM

Authored by Jeffrey Jones via Gallup,

Americans remain much more positive toward capitalism than socialism, and their ratings of each have been largely stable over the past decade-plus. And yet the fact that a whopping 38% of Americans view socialism positively is an ominous indicator of the current social state.

These results are based on an Oct. 1-19 Gallup survey. Since 2010, Gallup has measured Americans' basic opinions of several economic or governmental terms, including capitalism and socialism. Their views of socialism have held steady, even as Sen. Bernie Sanders and progressive Democratic politicians have pursued an expanded government role in addressing healthcare, poverty and early childhood education -- policies their critics describe as moving the U.S. toward socialism. Likewise, Americans' opinions of capitalism have not varied, even with greater discussion of income inequality in the U.S. and the concentration of U.S. wealth in a small percentage of people.

According to Gallup, socialism ties with "the federal government" as the lowest rated of the six terms included in the 2021 survey. In contrast, Americans are most positive toward small business and free enterprise, while they are slightly more negative than positive toward big business.

Ratings of Big Business Dip

Gallup has assessed Americans' opinions of these terms on six occasions since 2010. Their opinions on each have not moved much, apart from a significant decline in positive ratings of the federal government over time, from as high as 51% in 2012 to 38% in both the 2019 and 2021 surveys.

This year's survey did show a modest decline in positive ratings of big business, from 52% to 46%, which mirrors declines in confidence in the institution of big business and in satisfaction with the size and influence of major corporations.

Just as Republicans are responsible for the overall decreases in public confidence in big business and satisfaction with corporate influence, shifting Republican views account for the less-positive perceptions of big business. Currently, 56% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, down from 72% in 2019, have a positive opinion of big business. Democrats' and Democratic leaners' views are stable, at 36%.

Republicans' dimmed views of big business coincide with a period when many Republican leaders and media personalities have publicly criticized large corporations for activism on social issues like racial justice, diversity and inclusion, and climate change. Many Republicans have also spoken out against large technology companies like Twitter and Facebook because they believe those companies are censoring conservative viewpoints.

Even so, Republicans still view big business positively overall, and more positively than Democrats do.

Republicans, Democrats Diverge on Opinions of Capitalism and Socialism

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats have positive opinions of capitalism, but Republicans rate it higher. Whereas roughly seven in 10 Republicans and Republican leaners have viewed capitalism positively since 2010, about half of Democrats have done so. This year, 72% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats have a positive image of capitalism.

The two partisan groups' opinions of socialism diverge even more, with 14% of Republicans and 65% of Democrats saying they have a positive image of it. Democrats' opinions of socialism have gotten slightly more positive over the years, moving from 53% in 2010 and 2012 to over 60% in the past two surveys. Republicans have become slightly less positive toward socialism than they were in the initial surveys.

Since 2018, Democrats have rated socialism more positively than they have rated capitalism. Before that, they held similar views of the two economic systems.

Bottom Line

Americans' opinions of capitalism have generally been stable over the past decade, with around six in 10 having a positive view of capitalism and slightly fewer than four in 10 having a positive view of socialism. Democrats view both economic systems favorably, but have become more positive toward socialism than capitalism.

Recent Gallup research found that Americans, particularly Democrats, are most likely to think of socialism in terms of equality and government provision of benefits and services. When Gallup polled Americans on the meaning of socialism in 1949, the largest proportion described it in the traditional sense as government ownership of the means of economic production. Thus, the meaning of the term to Americans is evolving, but most still view it negatively.

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