Poll shows how divided Americans have become in the debate about Confederate monuments and flags

Confederate monument
Confederate general Stonewall Jackson AP: Steve Helber

Americans exhibit a sharp partisan divide over the presence of Confederate statues in public spaces, according to a new poll from our partner MSN.

Seventy-one per cent of Democrats surveyed in the poll said they supported the removal of Confederate monuments, while 87% of Republican respondents disagreed.

The future of the monuments in public spaces has been the subject of increasingly heated debate over the past few months. The debate came to a head earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a protest of a plan to remove a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee turned deadly.

In the poll, Republicans and Democrats also disagreed over how to handle the flying of the Confederate flag in public spaces. Seventeen per cent of Democrats said they believe Confederate flags are “too symbolic of hate” and should be taken down, but 78% of Republicans said they supported leaving them up to respect their historical significance.

The poll found that Americans across party did agree on at least one thing: They said protesters who topple Confederate statues should be charged with a crime. Republicans were almost unanimous in support of charging those who vandalise with a crime — with 98% voting in agreement — while only 69% of Democrats agreed. Democrats and Republicans also mostly agreed that protesters should not be allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves.

MSN polls its readers, then uses machine learning and big data, such as the US Census, to model how a representative sample of the US would have responded. It’s nearly as accurate as a traditional, scientific survey, MSN says.

The MSN poll surveyed 874,000 readers from August 15 to 16.