Americans prefer ‘progressive,’ ‘state’s rights’ to ‘capitalism,’ poll finds

By John Byrne
Wednesday, May 5, 2010 9:01 EDT
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Americans have a more positive response to the word “progressive” than they do “capitalism,” according to a new Pew research poll.

The poll, conducted Apr. 21-26 attempted to gauge Americans’ honest responses to various concepts. Strikingly — perhaps due to the recent financial crisis, repeated bank bailouts and ire at Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs — more Americans have positive views of liberals than they do of capitalists.

“There is a substantial partisan divide in views of the word ‘progressive,’” Pew researchers note. “However, majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (64%) and Republicans (56%) have a positive reaction to ‘progressive.’”

“Family values” scored highest in the poll with 89 percent support, followed by “civil rights,” with 87 percent. “State’s rights” also received more positive responses than “progressive.” The poll’s findings were first highlighted by Think Progress.

Capitalism scored highest among white college graduates with family incomes above $75,000. Socialism did best among those between the ages of 18-29 who approve of President Barack Obama and have incomes below $30,000.

“More than twice as many blacks as whites react positively to “socialism” (53% vs. 24%),” Pew’s pollsters note. “Yet there are no racial differences in views of “capitalism” – 50% of African Americans and 53% of whites have a positive reaction.

“Those with a high school education or less are evenly divided over “capitalism” (44% positive vs. 42% negative),” they continue. “Among those with some college experience, 49% react positively to “capitalism” as do 68% of college graduates. Those with a high school education or less are more likely to express a positive view of “socialism” than do those with more education.

“People with family incomes of $75,000 or more are the only income group in which a clear majority (66%) reacts positively to the word ‘capitalism,’” Pew adds. “Views of ‘socialism’ also are much more negative among those in this income category (71% negative) – and those with incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 (64% negative) – than those with incomes of less than $30,000 (46% negative).”

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