76 Percent of Democrats Say They'd Vote for a Socialist for President, New Poll Shows

Just over three-quarters of Democratic voters said that they would vote to elect a socialist president, according to poll results from Gallup released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted between January 16 and 29, asked respondents whether they identified as Republican, Democrat or independent and questioned them about their willingness to vote for candidates with "diverse characteristics."

"Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race and so on," read the poll question, according to Gallup. "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?"

When it came to candidates who were socialists, Democrats were most likely to answer that they would vote for them. Seventy-six percent of Democrats said they would back a socialist candidate, compared with 17 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents.

Being a socialist was the only characteristic to receive "majority opposition" from most Americans, according to Gallup. That is, a plurality of Americans said they would not vote for a socialist. About 53 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a socialist, while 45 percent said that they would. The percentage of those who would vote that way was down 2 points from a 2015 Gallup poll that asked the same question.

Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders attend a rally at the University of New Hampshire on February 10, the day before the state's primary. Joseph Prezioso/Getty

The poll results came on the day of the New Hampshire primary, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in the Democratic field to have declared himself a socialist—albeit a democratic socialist, which the Gallup poll did not specifically ask about. Sanders performed well in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month and took away only one less delegate than former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, who earned the most. However, both campaigns are asking for a partial recanvass of the caucus results.

Misconceptions about the precise meaning of Sander's "socialism" abound, with many Americans conflating the term with communism in nations such as Venezuela and Russia. But the Vermont senator's policies are more in line with the type of socialism seen in Scandinavian countries, a political science professor noted in a Newsweek interview.

At the February 7 Democratic debate, a moderator asked the candidates whether they would be bothered if a democratic socialist—presumably one like Sanders—represented the party in the general election. Only one candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, raised her hand.