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Poll: Majority of NC voters disapprove of toppling of Silent Sam

Protesters topple Silent Sam Confederate statue at UNC

A crowd of protesters pull down the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the campus of the University of North Carolina Monday night, Aug. 20, 2018.
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A crowd of protesters pull down the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the campus of the University of North Carolina Monday night, Aug. 20, 2018.

A new poll of likely North Carolina voters found that 70 percent disapproved of protesters’ toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument last month.

Twenty-two percent of those polled said they approved, while 9 percent said they were unsure or declined to answer, according to a news release from the conservative Civitas Institute, which commissioned the survey.

However, opinions on whether to legally remove Confederate monuments were more balanced.

Those polled were asked: “And, regardless of your feelings regarding the Silent Sam statue, do you favor or oppose legally removing Confederate monuments and memorials?”

Thirty-nine percent said they favored moving monuments legally, while 50 percent opposed. The rest were unsure or declined to answer.

Answers broke along political party and generational lines. A majority of Democrats (60 percent) favored removal, compared to nearly 75 percent of Republicans who opposed removal. And nearly 63 percent voters ages 18-34 favored removal, compared to 31 percent of residents over 65 years old.

A slim majority of voters disapprove of removing Confederate monuments under law. However, self-identified moderates, somewhat liberals, senior citizens and voters in the Raleigh-Durham media market disapprove of the Silent Sam toppling but favor the removal of Confederate monuments.

“While many still favor the legal removal of Confederate monuments and statues, the actions of the protesters are a step too far for most in the Tar Heel State,” Civitas President Donald Bryson said in a statement.

Supporters of Silent Sam arrived at the monument's base on Saturday, September 8, 2018. They were met with a counter-protest organized as a potluck and canned food drive. Supporters were escorted out, and several arrests were made afterwards.

Five hundred likely voters in North Carolina were surveyed Sept. 4-7 by Harper Polling. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The results were similar to those last year from a poll of North Carolina residents by Elon University, which found that 59 percent of voters said Confederate monuments should not be moved. Twenty-nine percent said the statues should be taken down.

The statue at UNC-Chapel Hill known as Silent Sam was toppled during a protest Aug. 20. Since then, several other protests have been held around the pedestal where the statue had stood for 105 years.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill

Pro-Silent Sam demonstrators were escorted by police on Thursday to a barricaded area near the base of where Silent Sam stood for a vigil. Protesters held a dance party and the two groups taunted each other. Police used pepper spray throughout.

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