A majority of American voters who identify as Republican or independent wouldn’t vote for a socialist president, even if he or she was “generally well-qualified,” a recent Gallup poll found. More than 3 in 4 Democrats, on the other hand, would cast their ballot for a socialist.
“Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be a socialist, would you vote for that person?” the pollster asked.
While 76 percent of Democrats said they would, only 17 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents said so.
Most respondents had no issue with voting for a “generally well-qualified” candidate of their party who would be black, Hispanic, Jewish, or female. Only about 2 in 5 Republicans, however, would vote for a Muslim or an atheist.
Being a socialist was the only attribute in the poll that prompted a rejection by the majority.
The poll was conducted over cellphones and landlines among 1,033 adults on Jan. 16–29. The results differ little from Gallup poll results from April 2019, when 19 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents, and 74 percent of Democrats said they would vote for a socialist.
The results present a conundrum for Democrats. Their base has moved significantly to the left in recent decades, Pew Research found in 2017, so their candidates need to support more progressive, far-left positions to primary well. Such candidates, however, don’t do particularly well with independents, who are the plurality of voters, according to Gallup.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-professed democratic socialist, now leads the Democratic ticket with a lead of 4, 3, and 8 points in the latest Monmouth, Morning Consult, and Quinnipiac polls respectively.
“Is anyone else on stage concerned about having a democratic socialist the top of the Democratic ticket?” a moderator asked during the Feb. 7 Democratic debate. Only Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) raised her hand after a moment of silence.
President Donald Trump, on the other hand, aligns with anti-socialist sentiment, repeatedly proclaiming that “America will never be a socialist country.”
During his Feb. 4 State of the Union address, Trump attacked Sanders’s signature policy—government-run universal health care.
“One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans,” Trump said.
“To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.”
Trump also commented on socialism when criticizing the repressive socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.
The South American nation was once the richest in the region, in major part due to its vast oil reserves. But under the rule of socialist presidents, Hugo Chávez and Maduro, it has descended into poverty. The regime has been quelling anti-government protests with arrests, beatings, and even executions of dissidents.
“Socialism destroys nations,” Trump said during his address. “But always remember: Freedom unifies the soul.”