To give the Right a political boost of sorts, Rasmussen recently did a push poll asking — without giving definitions — “Capitalism? or SOCIALISM?!?”.
As you can see by their headline, it backfired miserably.
Only 53% fell for the gag, even fewer among under-30s. Clearly all the screaming of “SOCIALIST!” is having people ask what the fuss is about, rather than prompting the Pavlovian reaction first intended. Reaction to this has already spread like wildfire, with some merely laughing at the failure, while the wingers so far are swinging between saying “America is DOOMED!!” and taking potshots at young people along the lines of “endure reality for once in your life & you’ll realize capitalism is THE BOMB, yo!”. Yeah, assume that anyone under 30 just sits around eating Cheetos in their dads basement all day, that’ll restock the ranks of your Young Republican clubs…
This is deeper than just words, however. Note this from further into the poll results summary:
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.
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.
So lets break this down: Capitalism barely gets a majority. Free-market gets 70%. Two-thirds believe big government & big business collude to screw them…
Sounds to me like the respondents have assigned a definition to capitalism themselves — this one, which can be summarized as “a political/economic system designed for the benefit and defense of concentrated industry, utilizing collective resources via the State for private gain”. Since that’s the actual in-practice definition, expect that 53% to shrink further…
Other reaction to this:
- Shorter Matt Yglesias: “This proves that Obama could sell ice to an eskimo…”
- John Judis at TNR somehow points the pro-socialism types in the poll to…Clinton. Seriously.
- Ron Chusid says thanks to the GOP for this drastic failure of strategy (or more accurately, strategy of failure).
- Mark Thompson also thanks movement conservatives, though in the sense that your parents would say “thanks a lot, ya big dummy” while slapping you upside the head upon finding out you borrowing their car resulted in it being blown up.
- Nate Silver reminds people of the obvious: income correlates inversely with approval of capitalism.
- Iron Knee summarizes this right on the button, IMO:
People are still concerned about freedom, they aren’t sure our current economic system is really free.
Damn right it ain’t.