A new poll may answer the question that has been on the minds of many pundits since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his run for the president: Can a self-described socialist really rally enough support to win a United States election?
If it were up to Democrats then yes, that is a possibility, an American Action Network group poll shows. Roughly six in 10 Democratic voters say they have favorable views toward socialism, according to the poll, which was conducted by a right-leaning issue advocacy group. The sentiment was shared among Democratic voters regardless of age, gender and race, Politico reports.
American Action Network reportedly took precautions to ensure that the poll wasn’t only reflective of the 2016 Democratic primary race, however. Neither Sanders nor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were mentioned by name when the surveys were conducted. Instead, the group, which is funded by a super PAC that supports House Republicans, asked questions based upon a television interview with Democratic Party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in which she was pressed to define the difference between a Democrat and a socialist.
That interview took place just under a year ago on MSNBC’s "Hardball" with Chris Matthews, who asked Wasserman Schultz to draw a distinction between “a Democrat like Hillary and a socialist like Bernie Sanders.” She didn’t answer and instead explained that the only distinctions she wanted to make were between Republicans and Democrats.
Support for socialism in the Democratic Party – or at least support for the brand of socialism that Sanders presents – is perhaps also noticeable in averages of national polls in the Democratic race. Clinton has long held a healthy lead over Sanders in national polls but Sanders has recently been catching up fast. She leads him by just 5.6 percent of the average, 47.6 percent to 52 percent.