Poll: Fewer than than 1 in 5 southern whites see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism

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Fewer than than 1 in 5 southern whites see the Confederate flag as more a symbol of racism than of southern pride, and opinions on the flag nationwide are sharply divided by race, according to a new CNN/ORC poll released today.


According to the survey:

• 66 percent of white respondents said they saw the flag as more a symbol of southern pride than a symbol of racism, with just 25 percent choosing the opposite.


• Only 17 percent of African-American respondents said it's more about pride, and 72 percent said it's more about racism.

• In total, 57 percent of the respondents said pride, and 33 percent said racism.

Notably, just 18 percent of southern white respondents said they saw the flag as more a symbol of racism—even though Confederate leaders explicitly stated at the time that they were fighting to protect the institution of slavery.

The survey, which had a sample size of 1,017 adults, was conducted between June 26 and June 28, more than a week after a white man gunned down nine black people in a Charleston church.


As politicians debated about taking down the flag on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol, 55 percent of respondents said they supported removing the flag from government property other than museums, while 43 percent were opposed. And 50 percent supported private companies choosing not to sell confederate flag items, with 47 percent opposed.

There's broad support for the idea that the Charleston shooting was a hate crime, with 87 percent of respondents saying it was. But a majority of Americans don't think it should be considered terrorism, with 41 percent saying yes and 57 percent saying no—even though the actions of the shooter, Dylann Roof, basically follow to the letter the definition of terrorism. 55 percent of African-American respondents, meanwhile, said they do believe it should be considered terrorism.


Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.

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