breaking news top stories world news politics conservative liberal news fox news fake news economic news socio political government news updates political blogs editorials illegal immigrant racism terrorism trump trump biden obama clinton investigation russia china congress scandal fbi nas cia doj intelligence science news election news worldwide news invasion migrants republicans CDC WHO democrats, schumer pelosi cortez harris Ilhan omar tlaib Covid-19 pandemic mail in voting riots vaccines
theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Monday, February 22, 2016
Poll: Majority of Democrats say socialism has 'positive impact'
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The term ‘socialist’ once was used as an epithet in American politics. Perhaps no more.
In a year in which Bernie Sanders, a self-described ‘Democratic Socialist,’ is running a competitive primary campaign for the White House, a new survey finds that a healthy portion of Democratic primary voters are favorably inclined toward socialism.
Story Continued Below
Nearly six-in-ten Democratic primary voters believe socialism has a 'positive impact on society,' according to polling conducted this month for the right-leaning issue advocacy group American Action Network and provided to POLITICO.
Democratic voters in every age group, every gender, and every race view socialism favorably, according to the early February telephone poll of 1,000 likely Democratic primary voters fielded by Republican firm OnMessage Inc. and commissioned by AAN, which is tied to the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC dedicated to House Republicans. And among people 45 and under — a group that has helped power Sanders’ primary performances — the ideology is preferred to capitalism by a margin of 46 percent to 19 percent.
The polling made a specific point not to mention Sanders or Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to AAN president Mike Shields, as part of an effort to avoid findings that simply reflect that race. Instead, he said, it was inspired by a pair of television interviews in which Democratic Party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was pressed on the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist.
But the results, presented by a right-of-center group, land amid a pitched primary battle where Sanders — a self-described Democratic Socialist who last year gave a high-profile speech at Georgetown University to explain that phrase — has kept close behind Clinton, who is widely seen as having shifted her rhetoric leftward in response to pressure from the Vermont senator.
The findings will fuel Republican claims that Democrats are increasingly out of the political mainstream — a point made frequently by the party's candidates. In a January Bloomberg/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, 43 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers said they would use the word 'socialist' describe themselves.
“Now you finally have someone who’s running for president — not just running, but doing very well, is very competitive, may very well be the nominee — who calls himself a socialist,” said Shields, a veteran GOP operative and former Republican National Committee chief of staff. “So we thought it would be worth going past the leadership of the party to see what the primary electorate itself thinks."
While socialism prevailed over capitalism among voters in every demographic, its smallest margins came from two of the groups with which Clinton has been strongest: voters over 66 years of age (36 percent preferred socialism, 28 percent sided with capitalism) and African-Americans (40 percent to 27 percent).
The ideology is viewed favorably by 43 percent of the primary voters, and unfavorably by 30 percent, implying an approval rating of +13. Capitalism’s favorability, according to the survey, is +17.
The two competing economic theories were described to respondents by the pollster. Socialism was defined as a system for those who believe “corporations have too much control and that the capitalist system is set up to favor the rich and powerful,” and that “the only way to police corporations and protect the citizens is for the government to take a larger role in managing the economy to make sure that every individual has equal access to basic necessities and public goods, even if that means that some people have to transfer their wealth to others."
Free market capitalism, meanwhile, was described as the world-view for those who “say that it’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers and that government intervention only leads to inefficiency. They say that capitalism produces the greatest amount of personal and economic freedom for every individual and [it] ultimately results in the best economic outcome for society, even if some people are left behind because they can’t compete.”
After hearing those descriptions, 40 percent of the overall primary voters said they preferred the former, compared to 25 percent who picked the latter.
The survey also looked at policy battles that have been raging in the Democratic primary — healthcare reform in particular.
When a single-payer healthcare system similar to the one proposed by Sanders is described, it is supported by the voters by a 47 percent to 39 percent margin. Clinton has long noted the attractiveness of a single payer plan, but has criticized Sanders’ suggested scheme as unrealistic and reliant on a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.
Respondents agreed by a 34-point margin with the phrase “Obamacare did not go far enough and we should now progress to the next step and create a single-payer healthcare system similar to Canada and countries in Europe."
And, by an 18-point margin, they favored “changing our system to the Socialist health care system that is currently in place in Denmark” — a country Sanders often mentions as a model on the campaign trail.