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

07/24/18

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 King (I-Maine), announced last week that he would run as a Democratic Socialist. Sen. Bernie Sanders (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 Clinton 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 Pelosi (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

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