Rasmussen just released the results of a recent poll on political attitudes. It found only 53% clearly preferred capitalism (hat tip reader David H):
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.
Yves here, Not surprising results break along income lines (investing being a rough proxy for income). Back to the article:
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…
It is interesting to compare the new results to an earlier survey in which 70% of Americans prefer a free-market economy. The fact that a “free-market economy” attracts substantially more support than “capitalism” may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets.
Yves again. The phrase “free markets” should be banned. It is a slippery, ill defined concept, and perversely conflates “freedom” (lack of restrictions) with “markets” which rely on laws (even Friedman would grant that) and exchange. A market with no rules is a brawl (think of drug dealers, who operate outside the law. deal in often adulterated goods, and contracts are often enforced via violence). It is a brilliant bit of Newspeak. Back to the article:
Other survey data supports that notion. Rather than seeing large corporations as committed to free markets, two-out-of-three Americans believe that big government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.
Yves here. See, everyone fell for the advertising. “Free markets” means the advantages accrue to the big and powerful, but its promoters managed to sell it to libertarians, who somehow bought that this construct would help the little guy. Sorry, you were had. To the story again:
Fifteen percent (15%) of Americans say they prefer a government-managed economy, similar to the 20% support for socialism. Just 14% believe the federal government would do a better job running auto companies, and even fewer believe government would do a better job running financial firms.
Yves again. Rasmussen is conservative, and I’d like to see how those questions were phrased. I bet if you posed the real choice, do you favor continued cash infusions to weak and maybe failing financial firms to a government receivership and restructuring, I bet you’d see over 50% approval.
Nevertheless, the leaning away from capitalism in the survey is not a strong endorsement of socialism (Americans are too wedded to the promise of upward mobility). It is revulsion against capitalism turned Mussolini style corpocracy, Given a choice between capitalism of that form and anything else, they’ll gamble on the alternative.