The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

Hillary, Capitalism, and the Democratic Party

by David Winston

In a May 2nd interview, Hillary Clinton was asked if describing herself as a capitalist hurt her presidential aspirations. Her response was “probably…it’s hard to know.  But I mean if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists, and I’m asked ‘Are you a capitalist?’ and I say ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability.’ You know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist!’” 

In the new survey from Winning the Issues (April 28-30), we asked voters if capitalism or socialism is the better economic system. One out of two voters (52%) said capitalism, with 17% answering socialism, but with about one-third (31%) that did not know. Among Democrats, the results were much more evenly split, with the largest group of Democrats (39%) being undecided on this question, and the remainder being split between capitalism (30%) and socialism (30%).

  • Moderate Democrats leaned toward capitalism (33%) over socialism (23%), but the largest percentage were undecided (44%).
  • Liberal Democrats were split among all three with a slight edge toward socialism (35%).
  • Among those who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, there was a small lead for capitalism (36%) over socialism (28%), but with another third that did not know (36%).

These results indicate that there is a significant level of debate within the Democratic Party about the merits of capitalism and socialism, and with the large percentages of undecided, there is a clear lack of consensus among Democrats about the best economic system.