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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Capitalism, Socialism, and Public Opinion, 2011

Our chapter on public opinion looks at political ideologies.  Our chapter on civic culture notes that socialism has never taken deep root in the United States.  The Pew Research Center reports on both topics:

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have focused public attention on what organizers see as the excesses of America's free market system, but perceptions of capitalism -- and even of socialism -- have changed little since early 2010 despite the recent tumult.
The American public's take on capitalism remains mixed, with just slightly more saying they have a positive (50%) than a negative (40%) reaction to the term. That's largely unchanged from a 52% to 37% balance of opinion in April 2010.Socialism is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all. Six-in-ten (60%) say they have a negative reaction to the word; 31% have a positive reaction. Those numbers are little changed from when the question was last asked in April 2010.
Read the full report for more details on the survey as well as public perceptions about "Libertarian," "Liberal" and "Conservative."
From the full report:
The American public remains divided over the word libertarian, with 38% offering a positive reaction, 37% a negative reaction, and 24% offering that they don’t have a reaction either way.
The steepest divide in reactions to the term libertarian are not political but generational. By a 50% to 28% margin, people under age 30 have more positive than negative feelings toward the termlibertarian. Views are more split among those age 30-64, while those age 65 and older offer more negative (43%) than positive (25%) reactions.