Is this what it means to “feel the Bern”? Here are the numbers when YouGov asked this question in May…
…and here’s where they are when they asked again this week.
From equal support for socialism and capitalism to a six-point swing in favor of the commies. That must be the Bernie effect. Although, in that case, how to explain the seven-point dip in Republican support for capitalism? I’m tempted to call that noise, which raises the possibility that the Democratic swing is noise too. Then again, when Democrats are asked whether Sanders calling himself a socialist makes them more or less likely to vote for him, 20 percent say more versus just six percent who say less. And when Democratic voters are asked to describe themselves politically, you get … this:
What you’re seeing here among Dems (and independents) isn’t a strong swing towards redefining themselves as socialist, I think, so much as it is the term “socialist” losing any stigma it may have held. Around 20 percent of the party, likely the self-defined “progressive” left, is comfortable being thought of as socialist. A 14 percent rump in the center disdains the label. Everyone else is indifferent. Perhaps that was inevitable now that we’re 25 years removed from the dissolution of the USSR, with memories of revolutionary socialism having faded and been replaced with smiley-face domestic initiatives like “free” college for everyone and happy talk at Democratic debates about Denmark (which, actually, is less socialist in some ways than the United States is). One of the more lasting aftershocks of Sandersmania this year on the left may be a fuller rehabilitation of the term “socialist” for young liberals. Sanders fielded a question yesterday about how he defines the term and is promising a fuller treatment soon in the form of a major speech. Making leftists comfortable with the term “socialism” by slapping the label on garden-variety progressive programs might be a clever first step to making them more comfortable over time with socialism’s grander utopian ambitions. Or maybe Sanders himself is just frustrated with the vagueness of the term. According to a Reason poll taken last year, 26 percent of tea partiers described themselves as socialist. No joke. Perhaps, for some sizable chunk of the population, after listening to conservatives sporadically describe Obama as “socialist,” they’ve deduced that it’s really just a synonym for “liberal.” Poor Bernie — he’s trying so hard to out-progressive Obama and they still end up lumped under the same heading.
Here he is yesterday trying to define the term.