A new Winthrop University poll delves into how white and black South Carolina residents view various issues differently related to politics and quality of life.
Last summer, South Carolina legislators voted to remove a Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds. The decision came after nine African-American church members, including pastor and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, were gunned down at Emanuel AME Church in what was viewed as a racially-motivated killing.
A majority of South Carolina residents continue to think removing the flag was the right decision, according to the Winthrop Poll. Among those surveyed, 57% of whites and 87% of blacks favored the decision.
South Carolina African-American residents surveyed believe that racism is the most important problem facing the country.The issue of race was mentioned by African Americans in South Carolina more often than politicians/government, jobs/unemployment and education, in that order.
“In the past year or so, we have had multiple events that raised conversations about race in South Carolina,” Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon told South Carolina Radio Network, referencing the flag, Emanuel AME Church murders, and the killing of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer. “The time seemed right to take an accurate measure of where race relations in South Carolina really stand.”
When it comes to placing blame on the state of race relations in South Carolina, 60% of both blacks and whites said both groups are equally to blame. And 70% of all respondents – 69% whites and 73% blacks – said both groups will need to equally change.
The Winthrop Poll asked how African Americans who seek change in America might best achieve that goal. Half of S.C. African-American residents said working within the system was a better option than challenging or protesting the system (38%). However, black respondents were still notably more likely to advocate protest than whites, only 25% of whom said protest was a better option than working within the system.
African-American residents surveyed said they feel comfortable talking with people of other races about some topics more than others. Three out of four blacks feel very comfortable discussing sports and entertainment, 47% talking about politics and 49% about racial issues.
The survey of the general population poll contains the opinions of 814 S.C. residents. Results which use “All Respondents” have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.4% at the 95% confidence level. Results for “Whites Only” come from the general population poll and have a margin of error of approximately +/- 4.1% at the 95% confidence level. Results for “Blacks Only” contain African American respondents from the general population poll, combined with those from African Americans targeted from the “oversample” poll. Results for “Blacks Only” have a margin of error of approximately +/- 4.9% at the 95% confidence level.
Poll phone calls were made during weekday evenings, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and evening to those with landlines and mobile devices.