Poll: Majority view socialism as incompatible with American values

Poll: Majority view socialism as incompatible with American values
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A majority of Americans say socialism is incompatible with American values, and only 10 percent of voters in a new poll have a positive view of socialism.

A Monmouth University Poll survey released Monday found that 57 percent of voters believe that socialism is incompatible with American values, compared to 29 percent who said it is compatible.

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The poll found that 42 percent of respondents have a negative view of socialism, 45 percent are neutral and only 10 percent have a positive view.

Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Andrew Yang: News coverage of Trump a 'microcosm' of issues facing country MORE (I), a self-described democratic socialist, is the only 2020 presidential candidate to openly embrace the term “socialist.”

Still, Republicans have sought to cast all of the Democratic contenders as socialists, pointing to "Medicare for All," the Green New Deal and other policies as evidence of the Democrats' leftward lurch. 

At the same time, the poll found some support for policies that have been criticized as socialist.

For instance, 58 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat support a “universal health care system,” while only 37 percent say they oppose the idea. A majority, 53 percent, say universal health care is not a socialist idea, against 37 percent who say that it is.

“We may be in a period of flux with how these economic systems are viewed,” said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray. “Socialism still carries a stigma, but many Americans feel they are being left behind by the current capitalist system. Policies that have traditionally been seen as socialist may be getting more popular even if the term itself is not.”

Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents have a positive view of capitalism, 40 percent are neutral and 17 percent have a negative view.

Seventy-eight percent of the voters who are pro-capitalist and anti-socialist are either Republicans or lean Republican, while 63 percent of those who are neutral toward both systems are either Democrats or lean Democratic.

“We shouldn’t ignore the possibility that ‘neutral’ could be a way for some Americans, especially Democrats, to couch their policy preferences without using a term that has historically negative connotations,” said Murray. “This is going to be a real challenge for left-leaning candidates in the 2020 presidential race. The party base seems to be saying, ‘We like your platform, just don’t use the word socialism to describe it.'”

The Monmouth University survey of 801 adults was conducted between April 11 and April 15 and has a 3.5 percentage-point margin of error.