Southerners don’t always follow U.S. trends, a new poll shows. Winthrop University and South Carolina Educational Television (ETV) polled almost a thousand registered voters across the Southern U.S. Dr. Adolphus Belk, Jr., director of the African American Studies program at Winthrop University, was one of the researchers.
“Regional identity in general and Southern idenitity, in particular, is playing more of a role in national politics,” according to Belk. “And at a time when people are wondering, aloud, about the viability and strength of the Republican Party in the state and nation.”
Belk says they they found that party distinctions still run strong when it comes to national politics. “Overall, 48.8 percent of Southerners in our survey approve of the way the president is handling his job,” Belk noted. “But when we look at the by party, Democrats approve of the president’s handling of his job at a level of 87.2 percent.
“For Republicans though, the level of disapproval was 65.2 percent.”
The poll asked southerners about everything from their level of confidence in his ability to handle threats against the United States, who the potential Republican presidential front-runners might be, to the willingness of African Americans to get ahead in today’s society.
Belk says it may be no surprise as to what the top issue is, no matter the party lines. “The current economic crisis, economic crisis, is issue number one, number two, number three for many people in this sample. Almost a majority said that it was the most important issue and it ranks very highly with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.”
The Winthrop/ETV poll found that almost 71 percent of southerners feel that African Americans don’t need special treatment in order to get ahead, and 49.7 percent don’t feel that generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way up.
Another interesting finding, topping the list of potential Republican presidential nominees in 2012 was “Can’t think of anyone” at almost 63 percent among all respondents. Tied for second were Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin with 7.6 percent each. The same trifecta appeared when asked of Republicans only, with percents of 50.8, 11.9 and 9.8, respectively.
No significant mention of Governor Mark Sanford as a presidential candidate.