If you talk with most run-of-the-mill people in general, then you will probably be VERY disappointed with their independent, objective understanding/competency on a great many topics regarding civics/anthropology/social science.
Its easy to blame such people and call them 'stupid', but the simple fact is that most of these people spend 40+ hours a week doing something else (like working or taking care of their families) and that there are large corporate interests with a lot of money who actively attempt to brainwash them with propoganda created by psychologists.
Yeah, that *sounds* crazy until you think about what a talking point is, how often the same commercials come on the air, and that the entire advertising agencies exist is to change the natural habits of consumers (which most normal folks are).
I've had arguments with people about whether the Constitution applies to non-citizens (yes, of course it does. read how its written) and political 'discussions' (term used loosely) with friends of mine who cannot name a single supreme court justice, congressman or define the term 'judicial review'. Yet everyone I have had these arguments/discussions with believes in their heart of hearts that their opinions on political matters are just as valid as those of someone informed on the issues. As such, it doesn't surprise me that people do not understand what socialism is when the term has been coopted as a pejorative term for decades by our political leaders and the media.
socialism (little 's'), or at least socialist programs (like public highways and collecting taxes) are an integral part of our way of life here in the USA. I doubt that most people understand that.... and even if they did, it would conflict with their media-driven world view so hard that they would rationalize it somehow "Well, thats not really socialist because <insert reason that makes no sense>".
P.S. If you're interested in this stuff, then a very easy, very funny place to start is George Orwell's book "Animal Farm".