Poll: More Virginians see Confederate battle flag as symbol of heritage than racism

WASHINGTON — More Virginians see the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Southern pride than as a racist symbol, according to a Roanoke College poll released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted between Aug. 10 and Aug. 20 and involving 608 adults, finds opinion more evenly split in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads areas.

While 42 percent of all Virginians included in the poll see it as a symbol of Southern pride, as opposed to 31 percent who see it as racist, 56 percent of African-Americans see it as racist. Fifty three percent of whites see it as Southern pride. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Eighty-six percent of those asked opposed removing statues commemorating Civil War soldiers. Fifty-three percent said they oppose removing the battle flag from the license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The state has begun the process of recalling those plates after a court ruling this summer.


2016 race, approval of president and governor

Separately, the poll also looks at Virginian’s attitudes toward leading presidential candidates just over a year before the general election.

While Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a theoretical matchup by 13 points according to the poll, the matchups with Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker all fall within the poll’s margin of error. The Republicans all poll better than Clinton among white Virginians, but none of the Republicans gets double-digit support from black voters.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter, has a 44 percent approval rating, with 15 percent of Virginians disapproving of him. His approval rating has not changed much since Roanoke College polls conducted in January and last October.

Forty-two percent of Virginans asked approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, with an equal number disapproving.


Planned Parenthood

Opinions about whether abortion should be legal appear to be relatively unchanged from a similar poll two years ago, despite the widespread attention on videos this summer that targeted Planned Parenthood.

Forty-six percent of Virginians asked in the poll believe that abortion should be legal under some circumstances; 31 percent believe it should be legal in all circumstances; and 17 percent believe it should be illegal in all circumstances.

Those opposed to abortion are more likely to say that they have watched the videos.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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