Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' surge in the presidential race against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton continues to gain speed, but a new poll finds that his self-description as a "Democratic socialist" is a killer when it comes to eventually getting voted into the White House.

A new survey from Gallup found that of 11 background characteristics voters would consider in choosing their next president, that of socialist was dead last, with just 47 percent saying that they would vote for a socialist, and 50 percent saying they wouldn't.

That is the most bias shown by voters in the poll of what traits Americans reject in the presidential choices.

By comparison, 92 percent would vote a woman, 81 percent for a Mormon, 74 percent for a gay or lesbian, 60 percent for a Muslim, and 58 percent for an atheist said Gallup.

At a recent media breakfast, Sanders, an "independent" in the Senate who caucuses with the Democrats, said, "philosophically, I am a Democratic socialist."

While that has been a winning approach on the campaign trail, Gallup wasn't supportive that it would be a winning approach in a general election.

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning for president. Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

Even Democrats are skeptical, putting "socialist" at the bottom of their choices, with 59 percent saying they'd choose one as president. Next to last on the Democratic list: Evangelicals, at 66 percent.

From Gallup:

Bottom Line

With more than a dozen candidates running for president, the 2016 field is one of the most diverse Americans have ever seen. On the heels of the historic election and re-election of the nation's first black president, Americans are just as likely to lend their support to black candidates as to women and Hispanics. This suggests that another historic election could be on the horizon with Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Rubio and Cruz in the race.

Americans' notions about whom they would give their support to are widening, but they are still less than fully supportive of candidates with certain characteristics.

The news is likely worst for Sen. Bernie Sanders. At one point, Americans might have withheld their votes from him because of his Jewish faith -- fewer than half said they would support a Jewish candidate in 1937 -- but today his socialist ideology, given Americans' views on voting for a socialist candidate, could hinder his candidacy more.

To a lesser degree, evangelical Christian candidates may suffer, in that one in four Americans say they will not vote for an evangelical Christian. Candidates of various faiths who court American evangelicals, like Southern Baptists Cruz and Huckabee, or Catholic Santorum, could suffer from their association with the evangelical faithful and the social issues they take firm stances on.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at