According to a new Gallup survey published this week, socialism as an economic system is rapidly gaining ground among American voters.
Gallup — one of the oldest and most respected pollsters in the country — asked a randomly selected sample of Americans whether or not they felt “some form of socialism” was “a good thing or a bad thing for the country as a whole.” 43% said they viewed socialism positively, while 51% had a negative view of socialism.
Even though those in favor of some from of socialism are still in the minority, socialism has been rapidly gaining ground among Americans when compared to a 1942 survey by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. The 1942 survey showed that just 25% of Americans thought socialism was a good thing, while 40% were against it, and 34% had no opinion one way or the other.
While Gallup didn’t provide age breakdowns in their sample, the growth in support for a socialist system may very well be coming from younger Americans. In February, for example, a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that more than half of American voters under the age of 35 were in favor of socialism. 56% of those aged 18-24 (known as Generation Z, or “Zoomers”), while 48% of voters in the Millennial generation (aged 25-34) viewed a socialist system positively.
The definition of what would qualify as socialist is still largely up for debate. While traditional socialists would define it as a system in which workers control the means of production, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) identifies as a “Democratic Socialist,” which he defines as a system in which a country provides a stable social safety net (like universal healthcare, tuition-free higher education, and paid family leave) by implementing higher taxes on the wealthy.
And while there’s currently no mainstream socialist political party in the United States, several candidates endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) — a rapidly growing member-based political organization — have won election to local, state, and federal offices. In 2018 alone, 38 DSA-endorsed candidates won elections, including high-profile figures like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), as well as state lawmakers like Colorado state senator Julie Gonzales, Rhode Island state senator Sam Bell, and Hawaii state representative Amy Perruso.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.