This piece by Timothy Egan in the New York Times explores how the US public understands the term “socialist”.
His point is that, while the word “socialist” may terrify people, actual socialist policies, don’t.
To me it seems that part of this is because Americans tend to equate “socialist” with “communist”, whereas over here in Europe we see a distinction. Although Marx used both terms, today they are used differently. Communism is only the very far left point of the political scale, while socialism covers a broader spectrum of left-wing views.
To be a socialist in the UK, for instance, is pretty mainstream, especially if you prefix it with “democratic”.
In the US? Not so much. But then, this is a country where Denmark is “obscure and forgotten“.