12 April 2009

Listing Pinkward?

I generally do not put terribly much faith in opinion polls. But the results here are interesting for two reasons. First, given the general ideological slant of the media and educational system in the U.S. (which, even if you grant that they lean toward "liberal," are generally hostile to socialist ideas) it is pretty astonishing that only a little more than half of Americans are committed capitalists. Second, the propensity to embrace capitalism tends to fall off in younger folks, so perhaps the spectre of Soviet communism will not forever haunt socialists.
"Just 53% Say Capitalism Better
Than Socialism
Thursday, April 09, 2009

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

There is a partisan gap as well. Republicans - by an 11-to-1 margin - favor capitalism. Democrats are much more closely divided: Just 39% say capitalism is better while 30% prefer socialism. As for those not affiliated with either major political party, 48% say capitalism is best, and 21% opt for socialism.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls.) Rasmussen Reports updates also available on Twitter.

The question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism

It is interesting to compare the new results to an earlier survey in which 70% of Americans prefer a free-market economy. The fact that a “free-market economy” attracts substantially more support than “capitalism” may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets.

Other survey data supports that notion. Rather than seeing large corporations as committed to free markets, two-out-of-three Americans believe that big government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

Fifteen percent (15%) of Americans say they prefer a government-managed economy, similar to the 20% support for socialism. Just 14% believe the federal government would do a better job running auto companies, and even fewer believe government would do a better job running financial firms.

Most Americans today hold views that can generally be defined as populist while only seven percent (7%) share the elitist views of the Political Class."
Of course, all this begs the important question of what respondents mean by "socialism" or, for that matter, by "capitalism." There is plenty of disagreement - even on among committed leftists left [1] [2] [3] - about the former, so there is little reason to think that the pinkos Rasmussen has revealed converge in their assessments. That said, while the folks at Newsweek surely exaggerate when they claim that "we're all socialists now," at least some of us, it seems, might be willing to consider the possibility.

All this might give pause to Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) who apparently is fretting that some - seventeen, to be precise - of his colleagues are "socialists." He might want to check and see if any of his own constituents might, gasp!, be listing pinkward!
Update (13 April) ~ I am happy to say that I scooped John Nichols over at The Nation in linking these two stories. Who knew John is so perceptive a fellow!

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