A majority of Americans continue to have a more positive than negative view of capitalism, with 57% in a new poll from Axios and Momentive saying they have a positive view and 36% saying they have a negative view, a slight narrowing from the 61-36 split in January 2019.
But, young adults’ perceptions of capitalism have been the real driver of topline change in the past two years. Today, 18-34 year-olds are almost evenly split between those who view capitalism positively and those who view it negatively (49% vs. 46%). Two years ago, that margin was a gaping 20 points (58% vs. 38%). By contrast, views among adults ages 35 and older haven’t budged, with wide margins of 35-64 year-olds and 65+ saying they view capitalism in a positive light.
Among adults in Gen Z (ages 18-24), perceptions of capitalism are truly underwater: 42% have a positive view and 54% have a negative view.
And more specifically, young Republicans have seen real movement in the past two years: in 2019, 81% of Republicans and GOP leaners age 18-34 had a positive view of capitalism; today, that number has fallen to 66%. Among Republicans 35 and older, views haven’t shifted as substantially.
While perceptions of capitalism have changed rapidly among young adults, perceptions of socialism have changed more incrementally among all age groups. Slightly fewer young adults now than in 2019 say they have a positive view of socialism (51% now vs. 55% in 2019). But that dip is offset by slight increases in the number of adults ages 35-64 and 65+ who say they have a favorable view of socialism. Overall, perceptions of socialism are still underwater nationally, with 41% of Americans saying they have a positive view and 52% saying they have a negative view.
Looking at the bigger picture, 66% of people say the federal government should pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between the wealthy and the less well-off in America (up slightly from 62% in 2019). That slight increase is due to changes across the board by party (+5pp among Republicans and Republican leaners, +2pp among independents, and +7pp among Democrats and Democratic leaners.
Though the topline number doesn’t really show it, views among Republicans have shifted quite a bit by age. In 2019, 40% of Republicans age 18-34 said the government should pursue policies that reduce the wealth gap; that has increased to 56% today among the same age group. Republicans age 35-64 and 65+ had much less substantial shifts in perceptions, and Democrats had small increases at every age level.
For more detailed results, click through the interactive toplines below.
Read more about our polling methodology here.