Most Still Prefer Capitalism, But…

April 10, 2009 ( - According to a new survey, more than half of Americans think capitalism is better than socialism.

However, the latest  Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey says that only 53% feel that way.   On the other hand, one-in-five prefer socialism, while 27% are not sure.   Of course, the question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism, so the results should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.

Still, accepting the results at face value, by age cohort, adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided:

  • 37% prefer capitalism,
  • 33% socialism, and
  • 30% are undecided.

According to the report, 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.

Money Makings

For those with money in the market, investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism, while even among those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better, compared with 25% who say they prefer socialism.

Republicans – by a whopping 11-to-1 margin – favor capitalism, while 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.

Free-Market Versus Capitalism

The report’s authors draw an interesting comparison of the new survey 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,” they said.

Other survey data supports that notion, according to the report, which notes that 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.

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.