The Best Political Magazines – According to Socialists

The results are in! We at LeftTimes ran a survey to improve our article recommendations, asking people to rate 65 left-of-center magazines.

We’ve got 94 responses so far and the results are quite fascinating!

First, a few qualifiers

  • This survey was distributed to some of our target audience, so you might call the respondents to this poll a self-selecting “judgment sample.” LeftTimes focuses on providing left-of-center readers (not liberals or conservatives) with high-quality journalism. As a result, 75% of our respondents identified as socialist.
  • We only included print magazines in the survey (no digital-only magazines). You can take our next survey on online-only left publications here.
  • 25 of the 65 magazines have gotten less than 15 ratings, so we aren’t (yet) including them in the summative results. We’re continuing to collect responses and will publish updates later.
  • We allowed people to identify with as many different political ideologies and interests as they wished.  

Who is winning? – Viewpoint Magazine

Viewpoint Magazine is the standout winner with an average rating of 4.6 stars!

The rest of the 10 all fall between 4 – 3.8 stars. In order, the top 10 are:

  1. Viewpoint Magazine
  2. The London Review of Books
  3. ROAR
  4. Monthly Review
  5. Current Affairs
  6. Boston Review
  7. In These Times
  8. N+1
  9. Jacobin
  10. New Left Review

The next best magazines all got less than 3.7 stars and thus are a bit behind this top tier group, at least on average (since our respondents seemed to disagree on many sources). A special mention goes out to Pacific Standard and Salvage, both of which are just shy of having 15 ratings and appear almost certain to make it into this top tier.

So if you know your political magazines, please take the survey! It’ll only take 3 minutes. With a bit more data we might be able to solidify these rankings. And feel free to share it with your groups (and tag us) to let us see what others think.


What surprised us most? – Baffler and Dissent

Baffler and Dissent only got an average of 3.6 and 3.5 stars, respectively. Now these are still quite respectable ratings, putting these mags at the top of the main pack along with the LA Review of Books, The Nation, New Inquiry, Catalyst, Z Magazine, and The Progressive. However, we were expecting them to make it into the top-tier category, and perhaps the top of it. Clearly, on average, the crowd we’ve reached so far disagrees with us.


Who is losing? – Ms. Magazine

The 10 lowest rated magazines (2.5 to 3 stars), ending with the lowest, were:

  1. The Atlantic
  2. New Statesman
  3. New York Magazine
  4. Mother Jones
  5. Rolling Stone
  6. New Republic
  7. Advocate
  8. Vice
  9. Jezebel
  10. Ms. Magazine

Note again that there isn’t uniform agreement with these bottom ten, or on most of the magazines. Both liberals and libertarians rate The Atlantic, Mother Jones, New Statesman, New York Magazine, Ms. Magazine and New Republic much higher than socialists.


The Best Bellwether: Atlantic Magazine

People’s opinion on The Atlantic appears to be the most predictive of their political affiliations and their ratings of other magazines.

Those that rated the Atlantic favorably were significantly more likely to identify with progressivism, liberalism, or the religious left. Meanwhile, those that rated the Atlantic unfavorably were significantly more likely to identify with Marxism, communism, anarchism or anti-imperialism.

Ratings of the Atlantic appear to be strongly correlated with ratings of the New Yorker, New Republic, Mother Jones, New York Magazine, and Ms. Magazine, and weakly correlated with ratings of Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, New Statesman, and Vice.

On the other hand, how respondents rated Atlantic appears to be strongly inversely correlated with ratings of Z Magazine, ROAR and New Left Review. However, this inverse correlation seemed weaker between ratings of the Atlantic and ratings of other left-wing magazines.


The Socialist Divide: Marxism

For socialists, affiliating with Marxism appears to be a significant dividing line. In the survey, 97% of Marxists identified as socialists; however, only 60% of socialists identified as Marxists.

These two groups were only able to agree on the quality of a handful of magazines, including Viewpoint, Baffler, In These Times, London Review of Books, Dissent, and Z Magazine. And while both groups were relatively down on the Atlantic and magazines like it, Marxists gave much lower ratings than non-Marxist socialists on average. Other major/interesting disagreements between these groups included:

Rating comparison 
Magazine Marxist Socialists Non-Marxist Socialists
Salvage 4.6 stars 3.0 stars
New Left Review 4.0 stars 3.6 stars
New Inquiry 3.9 stars 2.7 stars
International Socialist Review 3.3 stars 2.7 stars
Counterpunch 3.3 stars 2.6 stars
Catalyst 3.9 stars 3.7 stars
Jacobin 3.8 stars 4.3 stars
Current Affairs 3.9 stars 4.2 stars
The Nation 3.2 stars 4.1 stars

Note how even though Jacobin and Catalyst are affiliated magazines, non-Marxist socialists really love Jacobin, while Marxist socialists just think it is solid and actually slightly prefer Catalyst.


Next up: Survey on Online-Only Left Publications

If you enjoyed this blog post, then please take our next survey on online-only left publications.

We’ll publish the results again, and of course this will help us make LeftTimes even better! We have already updated the LeftTimes algorithms as well, adding several new publications as a result of this survey. But don’t worry: we won’t let these dictate everything, but we want to know what our readers are thinking!

And if you haven’t yet checked us out, bookmark LeftTimes, or download our iOS or Android app.


Special thanks to William Dawley for helping with this survey and analysis.

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