Fewer than one in five Americans view socialism in a positive light, while 50 percent view it negatively, according to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News and released on March 3.
The same poll found that being a socialist is the least favorable characteristic for a presidential candidate. Nearly three in four Americans said they have reservations about, or are very uncomfortable about, voting for a socialist candidate.
The survey results—with just 18 percent of respondents saying they view the term “socialism” positively —were published less than two weeks after openly socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is running on a platform of a medley of socialist policy proposals, including “Medicare for All,” the “Green New Deal,” free college tuition, and the $15 minimum wage.
A number of the leading Democratic presidential candidates—including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—are backing some or all of Sanders’s socialist policies. Warren, Booker, and Harris are all more liberal than Sanders, according to the DW-Nominate model.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and a number of prominent conservatives recently slammed socialism in speeches at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Democratic lawmakers are now embracing socialism, they want to replace individual rights with total government domination,” Trump said. “Socialism is not about the environment. It’s not about justice. It’s not about virtue. Socialism is about only one thing—it’s called power for the ruling class.”
Pence said that Americans will be choosing between “freedom and socialism” in the 2020 election, warning that the progress made by the Trump administration would be rolled back if a socialist is elected to the White House.
“Under the guise of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century. That system is socialism,” Pence said.
The NBC/WSJ poll of 900 adults was conducted Feb. 24-27, and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.