- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2015

Less than half of Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who is a socialist, findings in a new poll released Monday that delivered a blow to Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ presidential aspirations.

The Gallup survey found that Americans have grown increasingly accepting of well-qualified presidential candidates from most racial, ethnic and religious groups. But socialists ranked at the bottom, with just 47 percent of American saying they would be willing to vote one and 50 percent saying they would not cast a ballot for a socialist president.

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent who is waging a long-shot run for the Democratic presidential nomination, has proudly labeled himself a socialist throughout his more than three decades in politics.

He is the only candidate to distinguish himself in that way.

Americans’ discomfort with socialist persisted despite more than nine in 10 Americans telling the pollsters that they would vote for a qualified presidential candidate who is Catholic, a woman, black, Hispanic or Jewish — groups that have a history of being shunned by voters.

“The general trend is that Americans have become significantly more accepting over time,” said Gallup, which has been asking the question since 1937.

Among religious identities, while the large majority of Americans would vote for a Catholic or Jewish presidential candidate, smaller majorities say they would vote for a candidate who is Mormon (81 percent), an evangelical Christian (73 percent), Muslim (60 percent) or an atheist (58 percent).

“These dynamics can affect 2016 candidates’ efforts to attract American voters in the upcoming primaries as well as the general election next year, particularly because the field is shaping up as one that will have some diversity in terms of race, gender and, particularly, religion,” said the pollsters.

The presidential field includes five Catholics: Republicans Jeb Bush, George Pataki, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum, and Democrat Martin O’Malley. Two competitors are women: Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican Carly Fiorina.

Republican Ben Carson is the sole black candidate in the race, while two presidential hopefuls are Hispanic: Mr. Rubio and fellow Republican Ted Cruz.

Although being a socialist could be strike against Mr. Sanders, he can take solace in the fact that voters are accepting of his Jewish heritage. The poll found that 91 percent of Americans would vote for a well-qualified candidate who is Jewish.

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