No Socialists Need Apply!

In one of the dumber public opinion exercises in recent memory, Gallup has asked a polling question that tests whether Americans would vote for an “otherwise qualified” candidate for president nominated by their own party if she or he had a particular identification, and then listed the following: Catholic; A woman; black; Hispanic; Jewish; Mormon; Gay or Lesbian; An evangelical Christian; Muslim; An atheist; A socialist.

And–shocker!–after mixing one and only one label associated with a political ideology with ten associated with race, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, Gallup discovers “socialist” is the only one which a majority is unwilling to support (though not by much: 50 to 47). Here’s the heavy-handed conclusion from Gallup’s Justin McCarthy:

Independent Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, is the only Jewish candidate in the race. And while a large majority of Americans are willing to vote for a candidate of his faith, Sanders’ self-identification as a socialist could hurt him, as half of Americans say they would not vote for someone with that background

I have a feeling “constitutional conservative” might have done as or more poorly.

Frankly, the most interesting data-point to me was that 26% of Republicans say they’d vote for “a socialist’ if the GOP found an “otherwise qualified” one to nominate. But they wouldn’t, of course, which is one of the things that makes this question stupid.

I’m a big believer in the “more data” theory of politics and of life, and rarely reject any polling data as useless. But this comes pretty close.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.