The Have-Nots Aren’t Having It

Nate Silver breaks down the meaning of the Rasmussen poll on American attitudes towards capitalism and socialism:

Here is how support for the two economic systems varies by income level:

Among Americans making $20,000 a year or less, capitalism leads socialism by only 8 points, 35-27. Confidence in capitalism then rises steadily with income, such that among the wealthiest Americans, it has a 57-point lead on socialism (68-11).

This is not altogether surprising. Nevertheless, it has some potentially profound political implications. The poor, it seems, are having trouble suspending their disbelief. They're losing faith in the Clintonian restatement of the American Dream, that if they work hard and play by the rules, they can get ahead.

There are pitfalls for both parties given this climate. The Democrats have to worry, on the one hand, about replacing the Republicans in the public's mind as the party of hedge funds and big business. On the other hand, there may also be risks to activists in misinterpreting these results and overplaying their hand. There is a difference between the working class becoming more acutely skeptical of capitalism, and becoming more sympathetic to the abstraction of socialism; what we're seeing now is far more the former than the latter.