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December 2018 Winthrop Poll Southern Focus Survey

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WINTHROP POLL SOUTHERN FOCUS LOGO

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Half of residents in 11 Southern states either agree or strongly agree that America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation, according to the results in the Winthrop Poll Southern Focus Survey.

This viewpoint, a crux of “Christian Nationalism,” is particularly prevalent among white evangelicals. Those who espouse Christian Nationalist beliefs want the United States to be governed as an explicitly Christian nation (for more explanation of Christian Nationalism, see: Whitehead, Andrew L., Samuel L. Perry, and Joseph O. Baker. 2018. “Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Sociology of Religion 79(2):147-171). 

In this latest poll, three-fourths of white evangelical respondents agree or strongly agree with this belief on how the nation was founded. According to poll director, Dr. Scott Huffmon, “Research has shown that increases in Christian Nationalist beliefs lead to more exclusionary views on immigration and more negative views of multi-culturalism in America, those who hold these views care more about whether they have a strong leader who will protect their religious and cultural values than whether a leader is individually pious.”

More than 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. The poll found that 80% of Republican (or Republican Leaning) Southerners approve of Trump, while only 4% of Democrats do.

Trump has a 44% approval rating among all respondents and a 48% disapproval rating. This is slightly higher than his national approval ratings. According to Huffmon, “Trump’s approval is still soaring among his base in the South and his overall approval ratings in the region remain slightly higher than his national numbers."

Meanwhile, Congress has a 70% disapproval rating.

The Southern respondents contacted for this poll reside in: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The sample size does not allow for breakdowns by individual states.

 

SEE BELOW FOR QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES

 

CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS AND FLAG

As some Southern communities and universities ponder what to do with monuments that celebrate Civil War era figures, the Winthrop Poll asked residents what should be done with the statues that commemorate Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.

Forty-two percent of Southerners said to leave those memorials alone, while 28% said to add a plaque for context and historical interpretation. Nearly one-fourth want to move the statutes to a museum. Huffmon notes, “All told, 56% want to do something other than simply leave the monuments and statues as they are, but these folks are very divided on what should be done. A strong plurality advocate leaving them as they are.”

As far as statues honoring leaders and politicians who supported racial segregation, 30% said to leave the statues in public spaces. One-fourth said to add a marker, another fourth said to put them in a museum, while 13% said to remove them. Thirty-seven percent of black respondents said to put them in a museum, while a fourth said to remove them. 

According to Huffmon, “Statues to avowed segregationists are more controversial than monuments to the confederate fallen. A much slimmer plurality advocate leaving them as is while nearly as many would like to add a marker for historical context or move them to museums. While only 13% wish to remove them entirely, it is notable that this is more than twice as many people who want Confederate memorials wholly removed.”

Concerning the Confederate flag, 46% of Southern residents view it as somewhat or very unfavorable. Only one in five Southerners view it as very favorable. Breaking down the viewpoints by race, there were 44% of whites who view the flag as favorable or very favorable, while 58% of blacks view it as very unfavorable.

This Winthrop Poll sought to find out what Southerners believe the flag stands for. It is viewed by nearly half of all respondents as a symbol of Southern pride. Yet 64% of black respondents view it as a symbol of racial conflict.

 

CAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR AND RACE RELATIONS

Even though the American Civil War ended in 1865, the causes of the war continue to be debated. A fourth of all respondents said it was caused by slavery; 21% said states’ rights; and half said both were equal causes. Thirty percent of black respondents said slavery was the cause, while 58% said both slavery and states’ rights were the cause.

It only follows that race and race relations continue to be a controversial subject among Americans. Forty percent of all respondents said race relations are poor in this country, and another 38 percent called them only fair. A majority of black residents – 59% – said relations are poor, while 35% of white residents agreed.

A majority of residents, black and white, said race relations are growing worse.

 

ECONOMY AND OPPORTUNITY

More than half of Southerners said our country is headed in the wrong direction. This was mostly a Democratic viewpoint because 57% Republicans surveyed said the country is moving on the right track. Still, 77% of Southern residents said our country’s economy as a whole is very good or fairly good and a majority said it is getting better.

The most important problem facing our country, according to those surveyed, is immigration, followed by politicians/government, racism, lack of healthcare and the economy. 

Southern Republicans and Democrats are polar opposites in whether all people in the United States have an equal chance to succeed if they work equally hard. Nearly three fourths of Republicans agree while three fourths of Democrats did not agree.

Concerning “political correctness,” more than two thirds of residents agree or strongly agree that it threatens our liberty. Political correctness seems to be much more worrisome to Republicans, as nearly half strongly agreed that it was a threat, while only 14% of Democrats strongly agreed. Overall, however, nearly half of Democrats saw political correctness as a threat to liberty at some level while an overwhelming 84% of Republicans responded that they saw it as a threat at some level.

 

METHODOLOGY

For this latest Winthrop Poll, callers surveyed 969 residents in 11 Southern states by landline and cell phones between Nov. 10-20 and Nov. 26-Dec. 2. See full methodology statement for a note on the odd array of dates. The Southern states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.15 at the 95% confidence level. Subgroups have higher margins of error. Margins of error are based on weighted sample size.

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL METHODOLOGY STATEMENT.

 

POLL FUNDING AND CONTACT INFORMATION

The Winthrop Poll is funded by Winthrop University. For additional information, or to set up an interview with Poll Director Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at longshawj@winthrop.edu or 803/323-2404 (office) or 803/984-0586 (cell).

 

 

Poll Demographics for December 2018 Winthrop Poll of the South v. Census Data on the South
(Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia)

 

 

Census

December Winthrop Poll

18 to 29 years

21.5881

19.0

30 to 44 years

24.1393

24.5

45 to 64 years

33.8867

34.5

65 years and over

20.3859

22.0

   

 

Male

48.0769

48.0

Female

51.9231

52.0

Not Sure

--

0.1

 

 

 

White alone

73.7545

71.7

Black or African American alone

20.0113

20.1

Other

6.2342

5.9

Refused

--

2.3

 

 

 

Cell entries represent percent responding as indicated. Columns may not sum to 100 due to rounding

 

 

Table 1:  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President of the United States?

 

All

GOP (incl Leaners)

Democrats (incl Leaners)

National Approval 11/25 (while this poll was in the field) from Gallup

Approve

44

80

4

38

Disapprove

48

13

91

60

Not Sure

6

6

3

 

Refused

2

2

1

 

 


Table 2:  Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

 

All

Approve

18

Disapprove

70

Not Sure

10

Refused

3

 


Table 3:  Thinking about the current path that our nation is taking, do you think our country is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

 

All

GOP (incl Leaners)

Democrats (incl Leaners)

Right Track

35

57

9

Wrong Direction

56

33

87

Don't Know/ Refused

9

10

4

 

 

Table 4:  What do you think is the most important problem facing the United States of America today?

               TOP FIVE

 

All

Immigration

13.1

Politicians/

Government

7.4

Racism

5.8

Healthcare (people not having it)

5.5

Economy

5.2

 

 

Table 5:  How would you rate the condition of the economy of the country as a whole these days? Is it very good, fairly good, fairly bad, or very bad?

 

All

Very good

20

Fairly good

57

Fairly bad

15

Very bad

5

Not Sure

2

Refused

1

 

 

Table 6:  Right now, do you think that economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse?

 

All

Getting Better

56

Getting Worse

33

Not Sure [volunteered]

9

Refused

2

 


Table 7:  Which of the following comes closest to your opinion about what to do with monuments or memorials to Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War?

[CALLER: Randomize options]

Leave them just as they are.

Leave them, but add a plaque or marker for context and historical interpretation

Move them to a museum

Remove them completely

 

All

White

Black

Leave

42

47

26

Leave BUT add marker

28

31

16

Museum

23

17

42

Remove

5

3

13

Not sure/ Don't know

2

1

3

Refused

1

0

1

 

 

Table 8:  Which of the following comes closest to your opinion about what to do with statues honoring leaders and politicians who SUPPORTED racial segregation? 

[CALLER: Randomize options] 

Leave them just as they are.

Leave them, but add a plaque or marker for context and historical interpretation

Move them to a museum

Remove them completely

 

All

White

Black

Leave

30

34

18

Leave BUT add marker

26

30

16

Museum

26

23

37

Remove

13

10

25

Not Sure/ Don't Know

2

2

2

Refused

2

2

3

 

 

Table 9:  Is your view of the Confederate Flag favorable or unfavorable?

    Would you say that is Very or Somewhat?

    [CALLER: if someone asks “Which Confederate flag,” Respond: “The one commonly referred to as the Confederate Battle Flag.”]

 

All

White

Black

Very Favorable

20

24

8

Somewhat Favorable

17

20

7

Somewhat Unfavorable

18

18

15

Very Unfavorable

28

20

58

Not Sure/ Don't Know

14

15

11

Refused

4

4

2

 

 

Table 10:  Do you think the Confederate flag is more a symbol of racial conflict or of Southern pride?

 

All

White

Black

Racial Conflict

 

38

31

64

Southern Pride

 

47

55

21

Don't Know

 

12

11

13

Refused

3

3

 

2

 


Table 11:  What’s your impression of the main cause of the Civil War? Was the Civil War mainly about slavery, mainly about states’ rights, or about both equally?

 

All

White

Black

Slavery

25

23

30

States' Rights

21

26

8

Both Equally

49

46

58

Not Sure/ Don't Know

4

5

3

Refused

1

1

1

 

 

Table 12:  Now, we’re going to talk about matters of race and race relations for a bit.

How would you rate race relations in the UNITED STATES today? Excellent, Good, Only Fair, or Poor

 

All

White

Black

Excellent

2

2

1

Good

18

21

8

Only Fair

38

41

32

Poor

41

35

59

Don't Know/ Not sure

1

1

0

Refused

1

1

1

 

 

Table 13:  Do you feel race relations in the UNITED STATES are getting better or getting worse?

 

All

White

Black

Better

 

31

36

15

Worse

 

61

56

76

Not changing// staying same [volunteered]

 

6

6

5

Refused

 

3

3

3

 

 

Table 14:  'Political correctness' threatens our liberty as Americans to speak our minds.

 

All

GOP (incl Leaners)

Democrats (incl Leaners)

Strongly Agree

 

 

31

47

14

Agree

 

 

37

37

35

Neither agree nor disagree

 

5

2

7

Disagree

 

 

17

10

29

Strongly disagree

 

 

7

2

11

Don't Know/ Refused

 

3

2

3

 

 

Table 15:  America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.

 

All

GOP (incl Leaners)

Democrats (incl Leaners)

White Evangelicals

Strongly Agree

 

 

18

29

9

34

Agree

 

 

33

38

29

42

Neither agree nor disagree

 

8

7

6

4

Disagree

 

 

21

18

24

14

Strongly disagree

 

 

16

5

28

5

Don't Know/ Refused

 

4

3

4

1

 


Table 16:  Do you believe all people in the United States do or do not have an equal chance to succeed if they work equally hard?

 

All

GOP (incl Leaners)

Democrats (incl Leaners)

Do

 

 

49

72

22

Do NOT

 

 

47

25

74

Not Sure [volunteered]

 

3

2

4

Refused

 

 

1

0

--

 

For methodological questions please read the full Methodology Statement

 

See full methodology page for more info.

Contact Information:
Judy Longshaw
803/323-2402 (office)
803/984-0586 (cell)

The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University.

For additional information, or to set up an interview with Dr. Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at longshawj@winthrop.edu or 803/323-2404.

Note: Winthrop University, located in Rock Hill, S.C., is a nationally recognized public university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees to an inclusive, international student body.


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