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Why Trump’s Efforts to Paint Biden as a Socialist Are Not Working

A supermajority — two-thirds of respondents, including a solid majority of Republicans — supports a 2 percent tax on households whose total net worth, including stocks and real estate, exceeds $50 million. Support for such a proposal, which was a plank in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Democratic nomination, has increased from where it was a year ago.

“Taxes on the rich is an objectively popular policy,” said Sean McElwee, executive director of Data for Progress, a progressive think tank that has polled extensively on support for liberal policy plans. “Over the long term, the wind is in the sails of progressives, in terms of demand from the public.”

Mr. Trump and his party have tried to sow concern about socialism for several years. In the fall of 2018, as midterm elections approached, Mr. Trump’s White House Council of Economic Advisers produced a 72-page report warning of the dangers of socialist policies to the American economy. The White House promoted it in a news release with the headline, “Congressional Democrats Want to Take Money From Hardworking Americans to Fund Failed Socialist Policies.”

In the abstract, the messaging would appear to fit with Americans’ views about economic policy. Polls show a significant majority of Americans approve of “capitalism” and disapprove of “socialism.” But there are movements toward “socialism” in subgroups of the country. Majorities of young voters, and Democrats overall, have a favorable view of the concept.

Some of the split comes from disagreements over how to define the term. Americans who favor socialism tend to associate it with Scandinavian countries like Finland or Denmark, whose economic and social welfare systems are more commonly referred to as the “Nordic model,” the Pew Research Center has found. Its opponents tend to associate it with Venezuela.

That range of definitions has allowed Republicans to lump a growing number of policies favored by liberal groups under the “socialism” banner. In a recent attack, Mr. Trump’s first example of Ms. Harris’s so-called “communist” views was her position on immigration policy, accusing her of wanting to “open up the borders” of the United States.

“In my district, I hear a lot of fear about the dramatic turn the Democratic Party has taken toward socialism,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview. “My constituents are fearful when they see proposals to defund the police, abolish our immigration and customs enforcement, when there is burning and looting in cities, concerns over the Green New Deal.”

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