Poll: Confederate statues offensive but most Virginians want to keep them

Robert E. Lee
This Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, photo shows a view of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Some of the oldest and largest Confederate statues in the U.S. tower over Monument Avenue, a four-lane road in Richmond. (Chad Williams/DroneBase via AP) (AP/Chad Williams)
Jefferson Davis
This Tuesday Aug. 22, 2017, photo shows a view of part of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Some of the oldest and largest Confederate statues in the U.S. tower over Monument Avenue, a four-lane road in Richmond. (AP Photo/DroneBase) (AP/Chad Williams)
FILE- This June 28, 2017, file photo shows a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE- This June 28, 2017, file photo shows a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Two Confederate monuments in two Virginia cities have been vandalized this week. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the word “racist” was found painted in red on the Jefferson Davis statue on Tuesday, Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (AP/Steve Helber)
J.E.B. Stuart
This Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, photo shows a view of the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Some of the oldest and largest Confederate statues in the U.S. tower over Monument Avenue, a four-lane road in Richmond. (Chad Williams/DroneBase via AP) (AP/Chad Williams)
J.E.B. Stuart
This Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, photo shows a view of the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Some of the oldest and largest Confederate statues in the U.S. tower over Monument Avenue, a four-lane road in Richmond. (Chad Williams/DroneBase via AP) (AP/Chad Williams)
City workers drape a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
City workers drape a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
City workers drop a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in Justice park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.  The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
City workers drop a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in Justice park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 file photo, people look at the covered statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. The move to cover the statues was intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 file photo, people look at the covered statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. The move to cover the statues was intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
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Robert E. Lee
Jefferson Davis
FILE- This June 28, 2017, file photo shows a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
J.E.B. Stuart
J.E.B. Stuart
City workers drape a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
City workers drop a tarp over the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in Justice park in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.  The move to cover the statues is intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 file photo, people look at the covered statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. The move to cover the statues was intended to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WASHINGTON — A majority of Virginians say Confederate monuments should be kept on government property.

Results from a Washington Post-Schar School Virginia Poll, taken between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, were published Friday and show that 57 percent of registered voters in Virginia support keeping the monuments. Forty-four percent say they strongly support it.

However, a plurality — a 46-41 percent split — of respondents says displaying the monuments is offensive to African Americans.

A majority — 63 percent — says displaying the Confederate monuments honors leaders who should be respected for their role in U.S. history.

About 30 percent of respondents felt the monuments defended slavery.

Republicans were far more likely to support keeping the monuments in place, with nearly 9-in-10 sharing that opinion. Democrats favored removing the monuments by a 53-34 split. Nearly 60 percent of independent voters support keeping the monuments where they are.

Along racial lines, two-thirds of white respondents said the monuments should be kept on government property while a quarter said they should be moved. However, half of black respondents said they should be removed while nearly a third said they should stay.

A plurality of other nonwhite respondents favored keeping the monuments in place by a 47-38 margin.

The poll also found that Virginians say they are willing to and have talked about racial equality and prejudice.

Two-thirds of registered voters say they had a “frank conversation” about race relations with someone who is African American in the past few years. The same percentage of black voters says they have spoken to someone who is not black about the matter.

Poll respondents told The Washington Post that talking about the issue has given them a better understanding of the situation and how members of another race feel things are. Some now say race relations are the worst they have been since the 1960s.

Others also say talking about the issue with other races have given them a different understanding of the significance of Confederate monuments that has usually softened their stance.

A random sample of 1,121 adults in Virginia was polled. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.


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