Capitalism? Socialism? For Democrats, It’s Really Bernie vs Donald.

Gallup has a new poll out showing that Democrats now feel more favorably toward socialism than capitalism. But a few folks have pointed out that this isn’t due to increased warmth toward socialism; rather, it’s due to a sudden distaste for Trump-era capitalism. This is true as far as it goes, but the full story is a little more complicated. Here it is:

Approval of socialism took a sudden smallish jump in 2016. This was presumably the Bernie effect, which persisted but didn’t increase this year. But Bernie had zero effect on support for capitalism. The warmer attitude toward socialism was purely a personal thing.

Likewise, this year’s drop in support for capitalism didn’t improve the outlook for socialism, Alexandria Ocasio-Sanchez notwithstanding. Once again, it appears to be more a gut reaction to what Republicans and Trump are doing with tax cuts and the economy generally.

That’s my take, anyway. For Democrats, this isn’t the sharp ideological choice that it is for Republicans—who almost unanimously approve of capitalism and hate socialism. Basically, a fair number of Democrats like Bernie, whatever he calls himself, and hate the Republican version of the economy, whatever they call it. That’s really all these numbers mean.¹

¹So far.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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