WASHINGTON – Only a scant few Americans view socialism in a favorable light, according to a Wall Street Journal poll published Sunday. The poll numbers come as President Donald Trump and the Republican Party continue painting Democrats as socialists ahead of the 2020 election.
Only 18 percent of all Americans say they view socialism positively, while 50 percent view it negatively, the poll notes. The numbers for capitalism are tilted in the opposite direction: roughly 50 percent of adults view it positively, with only 19 percent saying they view the U.S.’s overarching economic system negatively.
The poll, which was conducted between Feb. 24-27, also shows that most Americans have a very low opinion of presidential candidates who are above the age of 75 and a socialist. Only 37 percent of people are enthusiastic about a septuagenarian running for office. The numbers are worse if that person is a socialist. Only 25 percent of people would support such a candidate.
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The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) played a key role in helping Democratic candidates like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez topple establishment Democrats in 2018 primary races. DSA leaders are looking to replicate that success at the national level as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-avowed socialist, looks to take on Trump in 2020.
He will have to deal with Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Trump is eager to paint Warren, Sanders, Harris and other Democrats vying for the White House as left-wing bomb-throwing socialists.
The president began his assault on socialism in an editorial for USA Today in October 2018, “The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead. The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela,” Trump wrote during the height of the midterm elections.
He added: “If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning.” Trump kept up the heat even after Republicans lost the House in November, telling the nation during his State of the Union speech in February that the U.S. will “never be a socialist country.”
Sunday’s poll also showed some good news for Trump’s presidency.
More than 46 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, up three points from January, according to the poll, which survyed 900 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. He gets his highest marks from Republicans (88 percent), rural residents (60 percent), whites without college degrees (60 percent) and men (54 percent).