New Poll Sends Right Into Tizzy

Rasmussen just released a poll purporting to show that only 53% of Americans prefer capitalism to socialism:

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

There is a partisan gap as well. Republicans – by an 11-to-1 margin – favor capitalism. Democrats are much more closely divided: Just 39% say capitalism is better while 30% prefer socialism. As for those not affiliated with either major political party, 48% say capitalism is best, and 21% opt for socialism.

Here is the punch line:

The question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism

Here are some of the more amusing wingnut responses (all emphasis in wingnut quotes is mine):

“steveegg” at Sister Toldjah says it’s the schools:

The worse news is that those under 30 are almost evenly divided, with 37% saying capitalism is better, 33% saying socialism is better, and 30% unsure of what they think. It is not a coincidence that the radicals of the late 1960s were entering the decision-level positions of the education establishment 30 years ago.

Tigerhawk disagrees. It’s not the schools — it’s the income taxes:

… the percentage who approve of capitalism in this poll (53%) is very close to the percentage of the population that pays (or belongs to a family that pays) any federal income tax (as of 2006, 59%). Indeed, since the top 50% paid more than 97% of all federal income collected in 2006, it is safe to say that the proportion who support capitalism, as opposed to socialism, is almost identical in size to the percentage of Americans who earn enough actual income to pay material income taxes. While the correlation between the two groups is not perfect — no doubt there are Hollywood types, professors, and United States Representatives who both pay income taxes and profess to be socialists — it is almost certainly high. Again, it should not surprise us that the beneficiaries of socialism would support it, and the people who pay for it would prefer a system that allows them to keep more of what they produce.

Dr. Helen thinks she knows what socialism and capitalism are:

… Frankly, I am amazed that so many people think that capitalism is better. That’s a good sign. Also, I wonder if most Americans, especially the younger ones could even give an adequate definition of socialism and capitalism. Perhaps they just hear the buzzword, Socialism, and say that is better, like some kind of trained parrot. No surprise there, with what they learn in many schools.

Philip Klein, fingers trembling over the keyboard, declares that this “has to be the scariest if true poll result of the year.”

Barbara O’Brien tries her best to reassure the righties:

I have words of comfort for those predicting the End of AmericaI doubt that most of the respondents know what “socialism” is any more than you do. I suspect only a very small portion of the respondents would say yes to the end of private ownership of property, for example.

But since the meatheads on the Right keep erroneously defining President Obama’s policy proposals as “socialism,” I can see how “socialism” might look good to a lot of people right now. It’s just that “socialism” isn’t really socialism. This country is no more going to embrace real, undiluted socialism than it’s going to fold itself up and fly to Jupiter. So chill.

Several other reality-based bloggers take up this same point.

Dr. Steven Taylor says the poll results are “worthless“:

The exact text of the question is not in the press release and I could not find a link to the actual poll in the story. The write-up does note:

The question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism

Given that it is manifestly clear from recent political rhetoric that people in general have no idea what an appropriate definition of either of these terms is, it is impossible to ably interpret these results. Further, if we assume that part of the question did include the issue of which is “better” we would have to know what that meant to the respondents as well. “Better” at doing what?

CFLF’s good friend, Mark Thompson, suggests that, instead of fingering liberal educators, movement conservatives should be looking at the man (or woman) in the mirror:

When you falsely complain that every single thing your opponents try to do is socialism and absurdly hold your bloviating, unpopular selves up as bastions of capitalism, you probably shouldn’t be surprised when people start thinking socialism doesn’t look so bad, and capitalism doesn’t look so good.  So suggests, in part, Chris Good.  Let the record reflect that I predicted this, in full, on November 5, 2008.   Heckuva job guys, heckuva job.

3 Responses to “New Poll Sends Right Into Tizzy”

  1. FreeDem says:

    Who wants to be an antisocialist? Most of the Socialized Countries have plenty of Capitalism.

    The Capitalists are just Socialized instead of Feral. Feral Capitalists do things like Credit default swaps, Socialized Capitalists run companies that make actual things with workers who can actually have a Middle class life, without poisoning their consumers, neighbors, or workers.

  2. osa says:

    I am a 73 year old who has paid taxes my whole life. I am certainly not uneducated since I have a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Political Science from Duke University.

    I chose Conservatism duing the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaign and have voted Conservastive my whole life—Until 2008 when I voted for Obama.

    Why? Because Conserfvatives today seem to spend all of their time shouting about everything the other side does and showing how they are wrong—


    My 35 year old college educated, married son lost his job last year and immediately gained a new one. But his new company does not offer group health insurance and private health insurance doe not cover pre-existing conditions—and he has a heart condition that will eventually require open heart surgery.

    I don’t LIKE national health insurance —but what is the conservative solution? How do Conservatives plan to help my son, and all of the other people who have lost group health insurance and now do not have coverage for cancer, brittle diabeties, etc.

    I will start voing Conservative again when present day Conservatives start giving solutions and stop shouting invectives at the people who won the election.

  3. booogiemann says:

    This is something to worry about. It’s like our kids are not being taught History in school. The most prosperous states are those which are more Capitalistic. Plain and simple. The Chinese economic boom can only be attributed to their adoption of Capitalism into their economy.

    The most oppressive states, those with the most Tyranny are those which incorporate Socialism into their politics, use a centralized governing body to determine how people must live, a form of forced coercion to the State’s demand or policy. Examples are Cuba, China, Russia, North Korea, etc. conform or die.


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