Clear 2020 theme emerges: Sharp partisan split over socialism vs capitalism

Now, we may know exactly why President Trump is vowing so often that the United States will never embrace socialism:

That polls really well among Republicans, like more than eight-out-of-ten well, including nearly two-thirds of whom have a very negative view of that system. The president will need every single one of those GOP votes to go with him on Election Day in just 70 weeks to overcome his chronic deficit in job approval.

And the same new poll by the Pew Research Center confirms why Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, and a few others of the two dozen Democratic presidential candidates for president talk favorably about considerably more government involvement in American life, such as eliminating private health insurance.

Two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent) polled have a positive view of socialism, though a distinct minority (14 percent) feel very positively.

Similar substantial partisan gaps exist over views of capitalism too. Almost eight-out-of-ten Republicans and Republican leaners (78 percent) have a very or somewhat favorable view of capitalism.

Perhaps predictably, Democrats not so much. Barely more than half of Democrats and Democrat leaners (55 percent) view capitalism positively.

Some of the gap may be explained by a shifting definition of socialism. Whereas Republicans see it as government control of the economy, many Democrats this cycle seem to talk of socialism as having more equality and equal opportunity than government-imposed control. Of course, that could just be sly political marketing.

Women tend to view socialism more positively than men (46 percent to 38 percent). While men overwhelmingly view capitalism in a more positive light than women do (76 percent to 56 percent).

As might be expected, families with incomes over $75,000 view capitalism more positively than those with lower incomes. Two-thirds of blacks (65 percent) and a slight majority of Hispanics  (52 percent) approve.

One interesting twist: Young people under 30 have similar positive views of capitalism (52 percent) and socialism (50 percent). Among older age groups, capitalism is clearly viewed more positively than socialism.