Confederate Flag? What Flag? New Poll Shows South Carolinians Never Liked It Anyway

A new poll by Winthrop University in South Carolina puts in perspective all the noise that conservative South Carolinians made over removing their flag, and hints at one of two things: either there are a lot more liberals/people with good sense in South Carolina than we ever thought or right-wingers have the functional memory of a domesticated turkey. In short, most South Carolinians no longer think that the flag of the old south should fly over their capitol grounds.

A symbol for treason

In the wake of the Charleston tragedy, the governor of South Carolina began a push to remove the Confederate Flag from their state capitol grounds.

It didn’t go over well, and the subsequent demonstrations were proof of why it needed to be removed.

Eventually, despite the right-wing’s best efforts, the flag came down, and no amount of whining on social media changed that.

As these things often do, the controversy ran its course and everyone moved on to the next big thing, forgetting about the Confederate flag and the shooting in Charleston.

Now, a new poll from Winthrop University shows that time not only heals all wounds, it distorts perceptions and warps memories, as well.

In a new poll released on Wednesday, a full 66% of South Carolina residents said that they approved of the state legislature’s decision to remove the flag from the grounds of the state house. Contrast this with a November 2014 poll conducted by the same university, where only a third of South Carolina residents disapproved of flying the flag.

While speaking to Talking Points Memo about the study, Dr. Scott Huffmon, who directed the poll, said that it was a sign “the tide of opinion has sort of officially turned,” and that the reason behind the discrepancies was “social desirability.”

“Theoretically a person could say, ‘Look, I disapproved of it, but I didn’t think it should come down,'” he said. “But what I think is happening is a combination of social desirability — people not wanting to admit that they were previously for the flag — and relatedly, the selective memory.”

Huffmon added: “social desirability on controversial topics is fairly common” and, “I think it is more likely to happen when the tide of opinion has sort of officially turned, like happened this summer with the flag.”

The poll comes with some huge caveats, however: 47% of those responding said that the flag was a symbol for southern pride. Only 40% acknowledged that it was a symbol for racial conflict. And while 66% felt the legislature made the right choice, just 61% said that if it was their personal choice, the flag wouldn’t fly.

The survey was carried out via live phone calls from September 19-27 with 963 South Carolina residents, and has a margin of error of ±3.2%.

Feature image via Flickr

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