NEW ORLEANS - A majority of Louisiana residents, both statewide and in metro New Orleans, oppose the removal or renaming of memorials and monuments to Confederate leaders, according to a poll conducted for WWL-TV and The Advocate.
In New Orleans, three monuments to Confederate leaders from the Civil War – Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard - are just one step away from removal, awaiting a City Council vote sometime in the next month. A fourth monument recalling the Battle of Liberty Place and the Reconstruction-era Crescent City White League, is also slated for removal pending a council vote.
According to the statewide telephone poll of 800 registered voters, conducted for WWL-TV and The Advocate by Clarus Research Group, an overwhelming 68 percent of the voters surveyed said they oppose the renaming or removal of Confederate monuments. Only 18 percent support the monuments' removal or renaming. Nine percent were undecided.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for removing the statues in July amid a national conversation about Confederate symbolism and racism that began after Dylan Roof was charged with killing nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In metro New Orleans, where much of the debate has been centered, 64 percent oppose the local monuments' removal. 18 percent support the idea. 12 percent are undecided.
Statewide, 46 percent of African-American voters surveyed support Confederate symbols being removed, while 31 percent oppose the idea. That's compared to 85 percent of white voters who oppose, versus 5 percent in favor of the monuments coming down.
90 percent of Republican voters surveyed said they opposed the statues' removal, while 3 percent supported it. Democratic voters opposed removing the statues: 42-35 percent.
"Republicans tend to be less supportive of renaming and removing the monuments than Democrats, but even among Democrats there's significant opposition to doing it," said Dr. Ron Faucheux, who conducted the poll.
At least two of the candidates running for governor, Republicans Scott Angelle and David Vitter, have said the monuments should stay. Vitter publicly challenged Landrieu on the issue, urging the mayor in a letter to "focus on murders, not monuments," asking the mayor to address the city's crime issue and not the Confederate symbol debate.
"Any time you see a poll number that's 18 percent one way and 68 percent another way, it's likely candidates are going to side with the 68 percent," Faucheux said.
The racial makeup of the poll's respondents generally mirrored that of the state: 68 percent white, 28 percent African-American and four percent other races.