John Hinderaker, a conservative blogger, says "to me, the most telling incident of the campaign season was a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise." The last poll I could find asking about "free enterprise" was in 2010, when 86% Americans said they had a positive reaction to "free enterprise." It was actually higher (over 90%) among people aged 18-29. However, there is a Pew survey from 2011 that asked for reactions to "socialism" and "capitalism"; among people aged 18-29, 52% had a favorable reaction to socialism and 47% had a favorable reaction to capitalism.
There were big differences in the reaction to "socialism":
18-29 52% 46%
30-44 38% 58%
45-64 26% 70%
65+ 15% 82%
Age differences in the reaction to "capitalism" were much smaller:
18-29 47% 49%
30-44 54% 42%
45-64 55% 42%
65+ 60% 38%
Hinderaker offers an explanation, which is that the "educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and
every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to
turning out liberals." But people with college degrees (and even graduate degrees) are slightly less likely to have a positive reaction to "socialism" and considerably more likely to have a positive reaction to "capitalism."
Paul Krugman suggests an alternative: "after decades in which right-wingers
have attacked long-established
institutions — Social Security, progressive taxation, unemployment
insurance — as 'socialism,' a lot of young people now believe them, and
think that this 'socialism' thing really isn’t so bad." That sounds plausible: a related point
is that many older people probably associate "socialism" with the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics.