|by UVA Center for Politics
Sept. 14, 2017
Some Americans express troubling racial attitudes even as a majority oppose white supremacists, according to a new poll published by Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics in conjunction with Reuters/Ipsos.
The survey found that while there is little national endorsement of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, there are troubling levels of support for certain racially-charged ideas and attitudes frequently expressed by extremist groups. The survey also found backing for keeping Confederate monuments in place, the removal of which has become a hot-button issue in communities across the country.
The large-sample poll (5,360 respondents for most questions) was conducted from Aug. 21 to Sept. 5 in the aftermath of a neo-Nazi rally and counter-protest on the grounds of the University of Virginia and in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11-12.
On Confederate monuments, respondents were given a choice between removing Confederate monuments from all public spaces or keeping all of them in place.
Some results indicated broad acceptance of racial equality:
However, other findings presented conflicting opinions about whether and which racial groups may be “under attack” in the United States.
Lastly, the poll found mixed views on Black Lives Matter and a relative unfamiliarity with Antifa compared to other movements and organizations that the survey asked about:
A fundamental question that this poll sought to help clarify is whether there is a sizable portion of the American public that could be receptive to the types of messages being disseminated by groups associated with the alt-right and/or white supremacy. When respondents were asked if they supported the alt-right, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis, only a small percentage said they did. But for both the alt-right and white nationalism, about one-fifth of respondents said they neither supported nor opposed those groups or movements.
Within this poll a sizable number of respondents selected the “neither agree nor disagree” option. Given the racially-charged and controversial nature of some of the statements polled, these “middling” answers seemed remarkable, particularly given the fact that a “Don’t know” option was also presented and was available if, for example, one wished to express uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. Ipsos pollster Julia Clark examined the makeup of the “neither agree nor disagree” respondents from this survey. While the profile of these respondents is not uniform, on some of the more notable questions she discovered a general trend showing that these respondents were more likely to have views that leaned more toward intolerance than away from it.
“The ‘Neither agree nor disagree’ respondents, for example, are far less likely to condemn statements against interracial marriage and in favor of preserving white heritage,” said Clark. “In addition, the ‘Neither/Nors’ are notably less likely than other respondents to feel all races should be treated equally or that minorities are under attack. In both cases, and others, this makes their viewpoints more congruous with extremist, anti-equality views than more progressive views.”