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Voters Strongly Defend Washington, Jefferson, Lessons of the Past

Monday, August 21, 2017

Despite calls by some politicians and the media for erasing those connected to slavery from U.S. history, it looks like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are going to be with us awhile longer. Voters strongly believe it’s better to learn from the past than erase it.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 88% of Likely U.S. Voters oppose removing the names of Washington and Jefferson from public places and taking down statues in their honor. Just seven percent (7%) favor the removal of their names from the public square because Washington and Jefferson like several of the other early presidents were slave owners. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Ninety percent (90%) oppose the closing or changing of Mount Rushmore because two of the four presidents it honors were slave owners. Only six percent (6%) believe the national historic monument in South Dakota should be changed or closed because it honors Washington and Jefferson.

Ninety-four percent (94%) of voters agree that it is better to try to learn from the wrongs of the past than to erase them. Just four percent (4%) think it is better to erase the wrongs of the past instead.

Voters tend to agree with President Trump’s defense of historical statues, and few think getting rid of Confederate monuments will lessen racial tensions in America.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 17 and 20, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

In May, just 19% of voters felt that the United States should erase symbols of its past history that are out of line with current sentiments.

Ninety percent (90%) or more of voters in nearly every demographic category agree that it is better to try to learn from the wrongs of the past than to erase them.

Those under 40 are more supportive of removing Washington and Jefferson from public places and from Mount Rushmore than their elders are. But at least 80% of these younger voters are opposed in both instances.

Among black voters, 30% believe the names of Washington and Jefferson should be removed, and 20% favor changing or closing Mount Rushmore. There is far less support for both moves among whites and other minority voters.

Republicans are the strongest supporters of the status quo when it comes to Washington and Jefferson, but there is very strong opposition across the partisan spectrum to removing these iconic presidents from public view.

Americans have rated Washington and Jefferson as among the most popular presidents in surveys for years.

Fifty-one percent (51%) said in a survey two years ago that Mount Rushmore should be left as is, with no more presidents added to the original four it honors.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) believe Americans should be proud of the history of the United States, but 66% think most of their fellow countrymen don’t know much about their country’s past.

A plurality (46%) of voters said in a November 2014 survey that the Founding Fathers – a group that generally includes Washington and Jefferson – would view the United States today as a failure.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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