Barack Obama complained at the House Republican Conference that the GOP had mischaracterized ObamaCare as “a Bolshevik plot.” His allies made hay earlier this week from a poll from Daily Kos that showed 63% of Republicans believed Obama to be a socialist. However, a poll by Gallup released yesterday shows that such a label would endear Democrats to Obama — since a majority of Democrats have positive attitudes towards socialism (via Power Line):
More than one-third of Americans (36%) have a positive image of “socialism,” while 58% have a negative image. Views differ by party and ideology, with a majority of Democrats and liberals saying they have a positive view of socialism, compared to a minority of Republicans and conservatives. …
Americans are almost uniformly positive in their reactions to three terms: small business, free enterprise, and entrepreneurs. They are divided on big business and the federal government, with roughly as many Americans saying their view is positive as say it is negative. Americans are more positive than negative on capitalism (61% versus 33%) and more negative than positive on socialism (36% to 58%).
Democrats and Republicans agree in their ratings of several of the terms, but differ significantly in their ratings of others — in particular, capitalism, the federal government, and socialism.
On capitalism, both Republicans and Democrats have majorities with positive attitudes, but at 72% to 53%, the difference is significant. Two-thirds of Democrats have a positive image of the federal government, compared to just 27% of Republicans. On big business, the difference is only eight points, 54% for Republicans to 46% of Democrats, which may show how much small businesses are valued when compared to the capitalism numbers (97% GOP, 95% Dems).
But of course, the big difference is on socialism. Only 17% of Republicans have a positive image of socialism (and where are those 17% anyway?), while 53% of Democrats feel positively towards it. Gallup doesn’t break out independents in this poll, but in a separate breakout, only 39% of moderates have a positive image of socialism, while 20% conservatives and 61% of liberals do.
As Obama and Nancy Pelosi keep pushing for greater government control of the health-care and energy sectors, the comparisons of Democrats to socialists will get stronger. That may not turn off the Democratic base, but it could explain why so many independents have fled the Democrats and are pushing back against the Obama-Pelosi agenda.