Poll: Majority of Americans say they would not vote for a 'socialist'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described "socialist" whose surprise victory in a New York Democratic primary has garnered a tremendous amount of attention among left-leaning activists.

But the rise of Democrats calling themselves socialists may not be a good thing for the party as a whole, according to new polling.

In a new Hill.TV/HarrisX American Barometer poll released Tuesday, an overwhelming majority of respondents, 76 percent, said they would not vote for a “socialist” political candidate, while only 24 percent of those polled said they would vote for a socialist candidate.

Ocasio-Cortez is one of several candidates running for office this year that labels themselves as a socialist. The Democratic Socialists of America told The Associated Press that 42 candidates at the federal, state and local levels have earned a formal endorsement from the group. 

Maine Democratic Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein, who is challenging Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingDrama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry Warner, Burr split on committee findings on collusion Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs MORE (I-Maine), announced last week that he would run as a Democratic Socialist. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (I-Vt.), the runner-up in the for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election, has long labeled himself a socialist.

Although Sanders remains highly popular among Democratic voters (and Americans generally), in the American Barometer survey, 64 percent of Democratic respondents said they would not vote for a "socialist." Among respondents who said they voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on MORE in the 2016 general election, 59 percent said they would not support a self-described socialist.

High-ranking Democrats have generally reacted either neutrally or negatively to the idea of socialism rising within the party.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (D-Calif.) told CBS News last month that socialism was not ascendant among Democrats. 

"It's ascendant in that district perhaps," Pelosi said referring to New York's 14th District, where Ocasio-Cortez is running. "But I don't accept any characterization of our party presented by the Republicans. So let me reject that right now."

The survey was conducted online in the U.S. between July 21-22 by HarrisX, among a randomly selected sample of 1,001 American voters.

The results are then weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, education, political party, and political ideology where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

— Julia Manchester