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Expand chart

Data: YouGov, Victims of Communism; Note: Number of Gen Z respondents: 303, Millennial: 554, Gen X: 494, Boomer: 587, Silent: 162; Chart: Axios Visuals

Young Americans continue to lose faith in capitalism and embrace socialism, according to a new YouGov/Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation survey of more than 2,000 Americans 16 years and older.

Why it matters: Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, is one of the top presidential candidates in the 2020 Democratic field. His flagship health care proposal, Medicare for All, has driven the national conversation and moved the Democratic Party significantly to the left — even among candidates like Elizabeth Warren who consider themselves capitalists.

The big picture: 50% of millennials and 51% of Generation Z have a somewhat or very unfavorable view of capitalism — increases of 8 and 6 percentage points from last year. Meanwhile, the share of millennials who say they are "extremely likely" to vote for a candidate who identifies as a socialist doubled.

  • Nearly half of Gen Z and millennial respondents said they felt the U.S. economic system worked against them — more than other generations. They've grown up in a capitalist country where economic inequality has continued to climb.
  • Many are burdened with college debt, have seen little wage growth and face the threat of job loss due to automation — all while the top 1% continue to accumulate wealth.
  • Socialism and communism also don't bring the same negative associations and memories that they have for older generations. Even the oldest millennials were just children when the Berlin Wall fell.

By the numbers: 19% of millennials and 12% of Gen Z said they thought the Communist Manifesto "better guarantees freedom and equality for all" than the Declaration of Independence. That's compared to just 2% of baby boomers and 5% of Gen X.

  • Just 7% of boomers said they had at least a "somewhat favorable" view of communism — compared to more than a third of millennials and more than a quarter of Gen Z.

The bottom line: Young people's political views often change as they grow older, but their support for socialist ideas and leaders is a sign that the old rules of politics are changing fast.

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