Issues & Insights

Poll Shocker: Trump Ties With ‘Unnamed Socialist’

I&I Editorial

The headline out of the recent Washington Post/ABC News poll was that President Trump’s approval ratings had hit an all-time high. Trump and his supporters were happy about that.

But the real news was buried in the poll and went largely overlooked by the press. And it should terrify everyone.

The poll found that Trump’s approval rating climbed five points to 44%, his best showing ever in that poll. Most polls have, in fact, shown Trump’s approval edging up. The Real Clear Politics average has him at 44.6%. It was below 43% a month ago. Gallup’s tracking poll has Trump within a few points of where President Obama was at this point in his first term.

The news media have tried to explain Trump’s rise as an artifact of the good economy, as though Trump’s own economic policies had nothing to do with it. According to them, it’s a mere coincidence that, after Trump completely reversed course on Obama’s economic policies of tax and regulate, the economy woke from its years-long slumber. It’s a coincidence that business and consumer optimism surged once he took office. That the stock market took off. That millions of jobs were created in an economy that supposedly was already at full employment. That real wages and median household incomes started climbing again.

If it weren’t for the relentlessly negative coverage he gets in the press or the constant attacks by politicians, pundits and celebrities, Trump’s approval number would probably be 10 points higher.

That aside, the Post/ABC poll asked one question that others haven’t, and the results are truly startling.

In its matchups of Trump versus other Democratic candidates, the poll asked people to choose between the president and an unnamed “Democratic candidate who you regard as a socialist.”

The result: A tie. Trump, 46%; Socialist, 46%. The same poll found that 51% would back a named socialist — namely, Bernie Sanders — and two others who are as far to the left as Sanders — Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Among likely voters, the split was Trump 49%, unnamed socialist 43%.

Think about that for a minute. Nearly half of the public now says it would pull the lever for an avowed socialist.

One could say that this is mainly a reflection of how much hatred there is for Trump, and that a huge portion would pick anyone, even a socialist, rather than him.

There might be some truth to that, given the level of irrational hatred among his detractors.

But in fact it’s actually more evidence of a broader trend plaguing the country.

Various other surveys have found that, independent of Trump, the appeal of socialism has been growing in the country. As we noted in this space, a Gallup poll found that 43% say socialism is “a good thing.” It was 25% in 1942 – which was long before the depredations of socialism were widely known. Among those 18-34 years old, 58% now say it’s a good thing. Even more shocking, 70% of Democrats now describe socialism as a “good thing” — an increase of 13 percentage points from just the year before.

This embrace of socialism comes at the exact same time that Venezuela, the socialist darling of the left just a few years ago, is collapsing back into Third World status. So what can explain the shift?

In our view, this is the payoff of the Left’s decades-long campaign to control the news media, education, entertainment and, increasingly, corporate America.

The mainstream media cheer socialist policies like Medicare for All, while ignoring the failures of government-run health care around the world. When they cover Venezuela at all, they conveniently forget to mention why the country has devolved into a violent dictatorship. Schools relentlessly push leftist dogma, no matter the parent’s wishes. Those who go to college get four more years of indoctrination. Corporate America is now a bastion of leftism.

The result is an entire generation of people who’ve been misled into thinking that ever-greater government control means better outcomes.

What’s to be done? How about unapologetically championing free markets, limited government and personal responsibility? How about telling today’s youth that socialism means losing virtually every freedom they claim to embrace.

Here’s an even better idea. Start insisting that reporters and educators tell the truth about socialism. Namely, that no matter how it’s dressed up, socialism always produces the same result: Widespread, grinding misery and oppression.

— Written by John Merline

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Seriously, who still thinks these media polls are the least bit legit? This is just marketing disguised as polling.

  • I don’t know that I am overly concerned at this point. Most people who are actually going to vote conservative are to busy or to fed up with polls to answer them at all, and if they do, they tend to throw out stupid answers just to mess with the pollsters. Most of these polls are, quite simply, an effort to sway the vote. A lot of people know this. What we should really be working on is red pilling more of the 25 and over crowd that are finally starting to get a taste of real life and a glimpse of possible prosperity under a real President. I have red pilled a few, and sent them out to red pill those that they can. Education is the key, but you can’t leave it to the school system.

  • I have little faith in polls and their numbers these days, remembering the polls from 2016!

  • Polls this far out are meaningless attempts to shape the debate, not report trends. Polls used to be conducted for legit reasons. Now they are conducted to make news, nothing more.

  • Polls this early in the election cycle are meaningless and a waste of time. I know the media, opinion writers, and “talking heads” are pushing their narratives because it sells but even they know how inaccurate the polls really are at this point in time.

  • The economy isn’t doing well. Stocks are doing well pumped up by cheap money. Trump slashed taxes and this gave the Fed a tiny opportunity to raise interest rates and yet the markets fell apart before they barely got off the ground. “Socialism” isn’t the problem, whatever that means. The things Bernie Sanders proposes have been tried before and they’ve worked fine. They aren’t unprecedented.

    What is unprecedented is how much liquidity we allow central banks to pump into the system to try and save investors and to try and inflate the stock market. That’s not socialism, that’s crony capitalism and that’s exactly what Trump represents.

    This economy is falling apart. Just keep watching.

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