Some who view socialism negatively portray it as a serious threat to capitalism in the U.S., while others who view it positively say the opposite – that it builds upon and improves capitalism. And some who have a positive view of socialism express an explicit preference for a system that blends socialism and capitalism.

The survey found that Republicans, in particular, viewed socialism and capitalism in zero-sum terms. A large majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (68%) had both a positive impression of capitalism and a negative view of socialism. However, Democrats and Democratic leaners were more likely to view both terms positively; a plurality (38%) had a positive impression of both socialism and capitalism.

While many of the open-ended impressions are revealing, a sizable share of people either did not share their views or articulated their reasons in simple terms, stating that socialism or capitalism is “good” or “bad,” or that one is better than the other. A quarter of those with a negative opinion of socialism – and 31% with a positive view – declined to offer a reason for their opinion.