Pollster: 'Death knell' to label yourself a 'socialist' in the midterms

A pollster argued Tuesday that midterm candidates labeling themselves as "socialists" could undermine their chances of success in November.

"When it comes to national elections, the midterms, labeling yourself as a socialist is probably the death knell. You don't want to do that," HarrisX CEO Dritan Nesho told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking."

Nesho was commenting on a new Hill.TV/HarrisX American Barometer poll showing that 76 percent of respondents would not vote for a candidate who identified as “socialist.”

Among Democratic respondents, 64 percent said they would not vote for a self-described socialist. Among those who said they voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE in 2016, 59 percent said they would not support a socialist.

"The concept of entitlement that we see in the political sphere, they are a Democratic phenomenon and the fact that Hillary Clinton voters over-indexed on answering yes that they would vote for a socialist for elected office shows that there's this strain, this far-left strain within the Democratic Party," Nesho said. 

"[A strain] that started with [Bernie] Sanders that is still active, and still part of the resistance, and can tip any primary election one way or another." 

The poll comes amid debate over the direction of the Democratic Party after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, sailed to victory in a stunning Democratic primary last month, defeating longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.).

Some Democrats have pushed back on those reading into Ocasio-Cortez's win as indicative of something broader happening within the party.

“I think it's the future of the party in the Bronx, where she is,” Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy Duckworth25 new sexual harassment claims filed against McDonald's Duckworth tweets photo of female senators showing up first for committee quorum: 'Women getting it done!' Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat MORE (D-Ill.) said in an interview earlier this month.

Duckworth warned against Democrats shifting "too far to the left," saying that Ocasio-Cortez does not represent the future of the party in the country as a whole. 

“I think that you can’t win the White House without the Midwest and I don’t think you can go too far to the left and still win the Midwest," she said.

— Julia Manchester