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America's continued move toward Socialism

by Felix Salmon
 
Just half of younger Americans now hold a positive view of capitalism — and socialism's appeal in the U.S. continues to grow, driven by Black Americans and women, according to a new Axios/Momentive poll.

Why it matters: The pandemic has caused millions of Americans — including many younger Republicans — to re-evaluate their political and economic worldview. That's likely because of two factors: a renewed focus on deep societal inequalities and the tangible upsides of unprecedented levels of government intervention. 

    "The pandemic is sure to have lasting impact for decades to come," said Jon Cohen, the chief research officer for Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey).

The intrigue: Shifts are happening on the right as well as the left, at least among those under 35.

    Just 66% of Republicans and GOP-leaners ages 18-34 have a positive view of capitalism, down from 81% in January 2019, when we first polled on these questions.

    56% of younger Republicans say the government should pursue policies that reduce the wealth gap, up from just 40% two years ago.

By the numbers: In 2019, 58% of Americans ages 18-34 reacted positively to the word capitalism. That's plunged to 49% today.

    Back then, 39% of all U.S. adults viewed socialism positively. That has since ticked up to 41%.

    Socialism has positive connotations for 60% of Black Americans, 45% of American women and 33% of non-white Republicans. Those numbers have grown over the past two years from 53%, 41% and 27%, respectively.

    Only 48% of American women view capitalism in a positive light, down from 51% two years ago.

    Today, 18-34 year-olds are almost evenly split between those who view capitalism positively and those who view it negatively (49% vs. 46%). Two years ago, that margin was a gaping 20 points (58% vs. 38%).

The bottom line: Politicians looking to attack opponents to their left can no longer use the word "socialist" as an all-purpose pejorative. Increasingly, it's worn as a badge of pride.

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