Washington, D.C. – American public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with most describing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride more than one of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And questions about how far to go to remove references to the Confederacy from public life prompt broad racial divides.
The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride. Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.
Among African-Americans, 72% see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, just 25% of whites agree. In the South, the racial divide is even broader. While 75% of Southern whites describe the flag as a symbol of pride and 18% call it a symbol of racism, those figures are almost exactly reversed amount Southern African-Americans, with just 11% seeing it as a sign of pride and 75% viewing it as s symbol of racism.
Among whites, there’s a sharp divide by education, and those with more formal education are less apt to see the flag as a symbol of pride. Among whites with a college degree, 51% say it’s a symbol of pride, 41% one of racism. Among those whites who do not have a college degree, 73% say it’s a sign of Southern pride, 18% racism.
Efforts to remove the flag or other references to the Confederacy from public places have emerged in the weeks since nine African-American churchgoers were killed by a white man who said he was trying to start a race war in a Charleston church. But the poll shows the public is mixed on how far those efforts should go, and nearly all flag-related questions reveal broad racial divides.