The Cato 2019 Welfare, Work, and Wealth National Survey finds that a growing majority—64%—of Democrats have favorable views of socialism, up from 53% in 2012. Only 45% of Democrats have a positive view of capitalism, down from 55% in 2012. Instead, today a majority (54%) of Democrats have negative views of capitalism.
In contrast, majorities of Republicans and independents have favorable views of capitalism and unfavorable views of socialism. But Republicans are considerably more favorable toward capitalism than independents by a margin of 77% to 52% and more unfavorable toward socialism, 85% vs. 58%.
Democrats Turn Against Capitalism and Toward Socialism during the Trump Era
Survey data over time reveals that Democrats began turning against capitalism and toward socialism during the Trump era. Historical Gallup surveys show that Democrats were about equally favorable toward socialism and capitalism in 2010 (53% vs. 53%), 2012 (55% vs. 53%), and 2016 (58% vs. 56%). After the 2016 election, however, Democratic support for capitalism started to lose out to socialism. By 2018, Gallup found 57% of Democrats had a favorable view of socialism while fewer (47%) had a favorable view of capitalism. The Cato survey conducted in 2019 finds the gap widening with 64% of Democrats who have favorable views of socialism and 45% who have favorable views of capitalism. Republicans, on the other hand, have remained resolutely in favor of capitalism and opposed to socialism since at least 2010.
50% of Democrats Say Trump Has Soured Their View of Capitalism
Attitudes toward Donald Trump may have something to do with changing Democratic opinions. Fully 50% of Democrats say that President Trump has made them “like capitalism less,” while 44% say he has had no impact on their perceptions. In contrast, majorities of independents (76%) and Republicans (64%) say Trump has not influenced their views either way.
Given that 90% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of the president, they may have lost confidence in an economic system that seemed to benefit Trump, a billionaire businessman.
Read more of the survey report here.
The Cato Institute 2019 Welfare, Work, and Wealth Survey was designed and conducted by the Cato Institute in collaboration with YouGov. YouGov collected responses online March 5 to 8, 2019 from a representative national sample of 1,700 Americans 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.