ELON — Nearly 60% of North Carolina residents say they prefer that Confederate monuments remain right where they are, according to a new Elon University Poll.
The survey, published Thursday, also found that a growing number of people want these statues and memorials removed from public spaces.
The new Elon Poll of nearly 1,400 N.C. residents found that 58% want Confederate monuments to stay in public spaces. Another 42% want them removed.
In November 2019, when the Elon Poll asked the same question, 65% wanted these monuments to remain while 35% favored removal.
Jason Husser, the director of the Elon Poll and an associate professor of political science at Elon, characterized the seven-point swing in a news release as "only a modest shift in North Carolinians' attitudes."
The new poll found increased polarization and wide demographic divides on the issue.
A growing number of North Carolina residents said removing Confederate from public property either helps and hurts race relations. (The percentage who said it helped grew from 24.6% in 2019 to 28.4% in Thursday's poll; those who said it hurt increased from 35.5% to 39.4%.)
The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020 made 31.5% of those surveyed more likely to support getting rid of Confederate monuments. Another 16.7% said his death made them less inclined to favor their removal. Slightly more than half said Floyd's death made no difference to their stance on Confederate memorials in public places.
Support for removal was greatest among people with a bachelor's degree or higher (52%), those between ages 18 and 24 (53%), Democrats (67%), Blacks (75%) and city residents (53%).
Support for retaining these monuments was highest among those with less than a bachelor's degree (63%), people 65 and older (69%) and between 45 and 64 (64%), both Republicans (84%) and unaffiliated voters (62%), whites (70%), and residents of rural (68%) and suburban (60%) areas.
Though a majority of N.C. residents say Confederate memorials should remain in public spaces, 94 of these statues were taken down across the country in 2020. That's almost twice the number removed in the five previous years, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report that came out in February.
Twenty-four Confederate symbols were taken down in 2020 in North Carolina. That was second only to Virginia, which removed 71 statues, busts, markers, street names, school names and other Confederate memorials.
Among the Confederate symbols removed in North Carolina in 2020 were statues in Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington, Greenville, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount.
A statue of a Confederate soldier was removed from the city-operated Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro in July after it was vandalized. The city of Lexington took down a 115-year-old Confederate soldier statue in October.
Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.