President Trump’s defiant comments on the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the increasing calls to remove Confederate statues drew widespread condemnation last week, but a poll suggests he may have struck a chord with some Virginia voters.
According to a survey from the MassINC Polling Group, many voters agree with Trump’s opposition to removing Confederate statues, but they are split on his assertion that both white supremacists and counterprotesters were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.
The survey of more than 500 registered voters found that 40 percent said white nationalists were behind the violence, while 41 percent said they blame both sides equally.
Opinion ran along party lines — 68 percent of Democrats said the blame lies with the white supremacists, compared to 15 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents.
On the question of Confederate statues, 52 percent of voters said they saw them as symbols of Southern heritage as opposed to symbols of racism. Just 29 percent of Democrats saw the statues as symbols of Southern heritage, compared with 79 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents.
Just over half of those surveyed, including more than 80 percent of Republican voters, said Confederate statues should remain.
A majority of those polled said Trump did not handle the Charlottesville crisis well, including 90 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents.
“His overall tone, words, and approach turned off many who would otherwise have been inclined to agree with him,” pollsters concluded.
Meanwhile, 41 percent of those polled approved of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s handling of the Charlottesville events, including 62 percent of Democrats, 23 percent of Republicans, and 38 percent of independents.
McAuliffe condemned the hate groups involved in the violent rally and criticized Trump for his stance. McAuliffe, a Democrat, has also called for the removal of Confederate statues from public property to museums.
Of the participants in the poll, 34 percent were Democrats, 26 percent were Republicans, 35 percent were non-partisan, and 5 percent either didn’t identify their party affiliation or did not answer.Aimee Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @aimee_ortiz.