Public opinion has shifted even further against the Confederate flag, but Southerners still see it more as a symbol of pride than of racism
For many years across the South, Confederate flags were prominently displayed at a number of state capitols and other public buildings. Over the past two decades the flag has been removed from many places, and in the wake of the white supremacist attack on a black church in Charleston the flag is set to be removed from a number of other places. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has called for its removal from a memorial in front of the Charleston Capitol, and the Republican governor of Alabama has ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a memorial at the Alabama state house.
The latest research from YouGov shows that in the wake of the Charleston shootings opinion has shifted further against flying the Confederate flag in public. In March 46% of Americans disapproved of its public display but today 59% of Americans do. The percentage of Americans who approve of flying it in public has decreased from 36% to 24% in the same period. Opinion has also shifted in the South itself. In March people in the South were against publicly flying the flag 44% to 38% but now it is 58% against to 24% in favor.
When asked about the meaning on the Confederate flag Americans narrowly tend to say that it is mainly a symbol of racism (41%) rather than a symbol of Southern pride (35%). In March 41% of people saw it as mainly a symbol of Southern pride and 31% saw it as a symbol of racism.
Black Americans overwhelmingly view the flag as a symbol of racism (70%) while among people who identify as 'Southerners' (something only half of people living in the South describe themselves as) opinion is more split.
33% of self-described 'Southerners' say that the flag is a symbol of racism while 43% view it as a symbol of Southern pride. Most white Southerners (53%) view it as mainly a symbol of Southern pride, but 20% of white Southerners do see it as a symbol of racism.
A large majority of the American public (59%) think that Southern states should not fly the Confederate flag from state capitols or other government buildings, but most Americans (51%) also oppose renaming streets, schools and other public buildings that are named after former leaders of the Confederacy.
Though every demographic group tends to oppose flying the Confederate flag on government property, even groups that strongly oppose flying the Confederate flag anywhere tend to be opposed to renaming streets and public property named after Confederate leaders. 32% of black Americans support removing Confederate names while 38% of black Americans oppose it. Among Democrats 33% are in favor and 40% are against.