Poll: VA voters OK with Washington Redskins name

FILE PHOTO: In this Aug. 18, 2014, photo, Washington Redskins strong safety Brandon Meriweather (31) along with other teammates enter FedEx Field with their arms raised before an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns in Landover, Md. The "Hands up, don't shoot" protest has made its way to the NFL. The Redskins secondary emerged from the stadium tunnel during pregame introductions Monday night with hands raised and palms forward. It was a show of solidarity with the people in Ferguson, Missouri, who are protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/The Washington Post, Katherine Frey)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – While the Washington football team’s name debate continues to heat up nationwide, across Virginia a new survey suggests the commonwealth believes “Redskins” isn’t racist and it should stay.

A statewide poll sent out Sept. 9 by Christopher Newport University came back with a resounding 71 percent of Virginia voters who say the team should keep the name and 68 percent don’t find it offensive to Native American Indians. The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport conducted it and interviewed about 800 registered voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error and a 95 percent level of confidence.

The idea sparked from the formation of the “Redskins Pride” caucus, which was created by a group of Virginia legislators in June after several protests against Washington’s appellation.

The full Wason Center Redskins name report

With the creation of the caucus, “We thought it was high time to find out what Virginia voters think about the Redskins name controversy,” said Quentin Kidd, Ph. D., director of the Wason Center.

While generally most calls for name change have come from progressive camps, the Wason sample shows Republicans in Virginia are just slightly more likely to say the subject shouldn’t be controversial. Seventy-two percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Democrats said no to adjusting the moniker. Again, considering any racist implications, both political party voters agreed at rates of 70 percent for Republicans and 66 percent for Democrats that the name isn’t a bigoted epithet.

Of the people interviewed, 73 percent identified as white, 19 percent said they were African American and 8 percent fell in the “all other” category. At 34 percent, a plurality of voters were 55 years and older while 18- to 24-year-old’s had the smallest representation with 13 percent.

Washington pro football still remains the most popular in the state with 34 percent of people saying they follow the team. Dallas Cowboys came in second with 9 percent and around a quarter of voters, 22 percent, said they don’t follow any NFL program.

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