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Democrats Like Socialism But Say ‘No’ to Becoming A Socialist Party

Democrats are less likely to know what socialism is compared to other voters but have a much more favorable opinion of it. They stop well short, however, of thinking the Democratic Party should become a national socialist party.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 28% of all Likely U.S. Voters think the national Democratic party should officially declare itself a socialist party. Fifty-three percent (53%) disagree, while 18% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But Republicans (41%) are much more enthusiastic than Democrats (19%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (25%) about Democrats coming out nationally as a socialist party.

Still, 51% of Democrats have a favorable impression of socialism, with 13% who share a Very Favorable one. This compares to favorables of 21% among GOP voters and 26% among unaffiliateds, with seven percent (7%) and five percent (5%) respectively who hold a Very Favorable opinion of it.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Democrats, however, incorrectly believe the individual has more power than the government in a socialist system, a view held by just 12% of Republicans and seventeen percent (17%) of unaffiliated voters. Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans correctly say the government has more power in a socialist system, and 54% of Democrats and 67% of unaffiliateds agree.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 23-24, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

In a recent New York primary, a Democratic Socialist candidate unseated a near-20-year congressional veteran, and she contends she represents the Democratic Party's future. But voters reject socialism in no uncertain terms.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Democrats expressed a favorable opinion of socialism in late 2015 when an avowed socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was challenging Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination. That was up from 45% Democratic support in 2012.

Among all voters, 33% have a favorable opinion of socialism, but that includes only eight percent (8%) with a Very Favorable one. Fifty-eight percent (58%) view socialism unfavorably, with 37% who share a Very Unfavorable view.

Twenty percent (20%) think the individual has more power in a socialist system. Sixty-seven percent (67%) say the government has more power. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

Those under 40 have a much more favorable opinion of socialism than their elders do and are the strongest supporters of Democrats becoming a national socialist party. But younger voters are also the most likely to believe the individual has more power under a socialist system.

Liberals like socialism a lot more than moderates and conservatives do and are much more likely to think it empowers the individual. But conservatives are the biggest fans of Democrats becoming a socialist party.

As recently as last September, 48% of all voters favored a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone.

Forty-three percent (43%) support Sanders’ plan to make Medicare available not just to elderly Americans but to all. Most voters already believe, though, that they won’t receive their full Medicare benefits under the current system when they retire.

Forty-six percent (46%) also support Sanders’ proposal to create a federal jobs program that would guarantee every American at least a $15-an-hour job with health benefits.

Generally speaking, however, most voters have long preferred a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a bigger one with more services and more taxes.

Twenty percent (20%) of Democrats said last November that Sanders would make the best candidate against President Trump in 2020. But 73% of Democrats now think their party needs a “fresh face” to run against Trump.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 23-24, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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