VCU poll: Almost half of Virginians want Confederate monuments left in place

Monuments to Confederate generals and a church lines Monument Avenue on July 23, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginians are split over what course of action to take with Confederate monuments, according to a new poll by Virginia Commonwealth University.

A plurality of 49 percent of adult state residents favor leaving Confederate statues in place as they are, while 46 percent favor some type of change. But those supporting changes are far from united — 23 percent of those surveyed favor moving the statues to museums, 13 percent favor adding context in the current location such as additional signage, and 10 percent favor removing the statues, according to the Winter 2017-18 Public Policy Poll conducted by the Wilder School’s Office of Public Policy Outreach.

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The poll, a random sample of 788 adults in Virginia conducted by landline and cell telephone from Dec. 8-26, has a margin of error of 3.49 percentage points.

Significant differences of perspective exist along key demographic categories. Republicans, white respondents, those with a high school diploma or less of education, and those age 65 and older are significantly more likely to favor leaving monuments in place.

Regionally, those in the West (65 percent) and Northwest (59 percent) were more likely to favor leaving monuments in place without any changes than those from Northern Virginia (37 percent).

Likewise, of those in the poll who reported their choice in the 2017 gubernatorial election, 69 percent of voters who supported Republican Ed Gillespie want the monuments to remain as they are, compared to only 20 percent of those who backed Democrat Ralph Northam. However, a plurality of Northam voters (46 percent) prefer relocation of the monuments to a museum, compared to only 15 percent who want to see complete removal. 

While no consensus exists on what to do with Confederate monuments, a large majority of the overall respondents (76 percent) are unwilling to pay for any changes to the monuments through increased taxes. Twenty-one percent would be willing to pay more in taxes to pay for changes or removal. 

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