Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 6, 2009

POLLING SECESSION.... The latest Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos asks respondents, "Do you think the state that you live in would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?" About four out of five Americans prefer to keep the union together. But there were some political and regional differences.

Self-identified Democrats, for example, feel pretty strongly about staying in the U.S., with 91% rejecting the idea of their state becoming an independent country. Among Independents, it was 80%. Among Republicans, the number drops to 62%, with 12% preferring to leave the U.S., and 26% of Republicans unsure.

It's funny what three months of a Democratic president will do to one's sense of patriotism.

But I was even more intrigued by the regional differences. I even made a chart, using the poll results.


In the Northeast, there's near unanimity about staying in the United States. The numbers are nearly as strong in the West and Midwest. But in the South, only 61% expressed support for keeping the union together, 9% believe their state would be better off as an independent nation (the other regions were below 5%), and 30% aren't sure.

The same poll also asked, "Would you approve or disapprove of the state that you live in leaving the United States?" The trend was similar. In the Northeast, there was strong support for staying in the country (94% to 1%), as was the case in the West (87% to 3%) and Midwest (89% to 4%). In the South, the numbers were comparably much closer (63% to 8%).

The poll comes just as the Oklahoma legislature is set to vote on a resolution affirming its sovereignty. Gov. Brad Henry (D) vetoed the measure, but lawmakers are poised to override.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Before the bashing starts: Rest assured plenty of us in the South are happy with being part of the nation. Right now, I'm ashamed of how many of the people in my region act. Then again, I've been ashamed of many of the things my country has done over the last several years, and still am of some things. I remain a proud South Carolinian and a proud American.

Posted by: Jurgan on May 6, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'd be okay with California striking out on its own. So I would be okay with, say, Texas doing it, 'cept they can't be trusted not to go all Barbarian.

Posted by: diamond joe quimby on May 6, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

And then overlap that data with states that pay more into the federal coffers than they receive back, and what do you find? The states where secession polls the strongest receive the most in federal largess.

Posted by: kitsune on May 6, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

sweet jeebus but it'd be great to scrape the likes of oklahoma, mississippi, texas, and georgia off the bottom of the national shoe... we'd wanna keep austin and parts of atlanta as international districts, but the rest have been nothin' but hellholes for a long long time...

Posted by: neill on May 6, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Can't wait for the state-by-state comparison. I really what to know who the 'Top 10 Most Treasonous States in the US' are.

Posted by: leo on May 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone read the 70's sci fi novel "Ecotopia"? Northern Cal, Oregon, and Washington secede from the US to form a harmonious, egalitarian, ecologically balanced society. Sounds like the exact opposite of a new southern secession!

Posted by: ceenik on May 6, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The South will rise again. Ya'll.

When I was younger and more of an ass, I'd say give'em free budweiser and meth and all the guns they can carry, seal of the state borders, and just wait for the dust to settle.

Posted by: flubber on May 6, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Before the bashing starts: Rest assured plenty of us in the South are happy with being part of the nation

Steve's own graph shows that 60% of the folks in the south are perfectly happy with being Americans. It's only about 30% of your neighbors who are treasonous bastards who hate freedom.

Why do they hate America? They hate us for our freedoms. Sigh.

Posted by: NonyNony on May 6, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

My sister lives in Arkansas, is a lifelong Democrat who voted for Obama, and is heartily sick to death of being lumped in with secessionist Arkansan knucklehead GOPers who just a short while ago were accusing any critics of Bush as being unpatriotic if not treasonous.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 6, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I really think this is flavor-of-the-month stuff. I understand from friends who monitor this stuff that secession talk has been all the rage in certain corners of the wingnut media universe for some time, and a lot of gullible and thoughtless people have picked up on it without really understanding it. But having taught the history of the American South at a major southern university for a number of years, I think I can attest that this sort of neo-Confederate fantasizing has become marginalized even here. I don't take it seriously at all; at most it's just cheap posturing from Republicans who can't resist a pander.

That said, I must confess that the idiocy of declaring that attaching strings to federal funding is a violation of "state sovereignty" is a hoot. If these guys feel that way, then *don't take the money*--and then they can explain to their constituents why they're laying off teachers and opening prisons. That's the position Mark Sanford's finding himself in the my native SC--and the results are telling.

Posted by: David in Nashville on May 6, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

A ridiculous poll. Like asking schizophrenics if they think life on Venus is better than life on Earth.

Few if any of those polled know what secession means or entails. They should ask what their idea of secession is...what it means for their state to no longer be a member of the US.

More rhetoric around bogus bullshit polls to lend credence to expressing one's anger and frustration toward the idea of a civil war.

Posted by: bjobotts on May 6, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I believe after the 2000 and 2004 elections, the results of this poll would have been inversed -- Democrats and the NE wanting to secede versus the South and GOP very happy.

Also, re: Oklahoma's sovereignty vote...I'm sure the Cherokee Nation would like to be able to say a thing or two about sovereignty to the white folks in the OK legislature...

Posted by: dcrolg on May 6, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine what would have happened in 2002 if the Governor of Massachusetts had made a comment pondering the possibility of leaving Bushtopia behind. He'd have been forced onto the first plane heading south to the Dixie Chick compound.

As I wrote to Rick Perry's office last week, I don't want my tax dollars going to Governors and states that aren't sure whether they want to be part of my country.

You can't have it both ways. Get in or get out. And think through what you are doing before you decide to get out. We already fought that war, and you lost.

Posted by: wonder on May 6, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

No, I'm telling you, the south IS different. Would've been interesting if they had separated out how many "born in the South" southerners favored secession from the "moved to the south" category. If you eliminate transplants, I'd bet the secessionists would be more like 80-85%. I live here, I know. These are people who largely do not buy into the concept of "the common good". Because they are militaristic, they think they are patriotic.

Posted by: bluewave on May 6, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

For a state to "affirm its sovereignty" is for it to declare federal law null and void if it conflicts with state law. Three decades before the Civil War, President Andrew Jackson dealt forcefully with South Carolina's attempt to "nullify" federal tariffs. In Jackson's view, nullification was tantamount to secession.

Posted by: KTinOhio on May 6, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't we fight a war over this stuff once?

And, if memory serves, we won.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on May 6, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I get to drive 4-5 hrs occasionally in the evenings, and once in awhile, will tune to AM talk radio. There are some seriously very very wacko, disturbed people out there on the far far right who clearly missed the lessons of Grade 5-12 civics and US history. Lunatics discussing God's directives to secceed, and more. I suppose some poor schlump has to monitor that stuff, but I could not take more than a few minutes.

There are some very scary people out there.

Posted by: bigWisc on May 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many Seccessionist would still want to leave the union when they realize they would lose all their pieces of the federal pie, would lose their military bases, home corporations would lose government contracts being reclassified as foreign corporations, would lose FEMA funding, agriculture subsidies, DOT money, FAA money, would lose their national guard, access to embassies all over the world, and FDIC protection for bank depositers. However they would immediately gain return massive unemployement and a crushing tax burden. Seems fair to me.

Posted by: bcinaz on May 6, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I would be very interested in seeing a poll that asked southern state residents if they would be willing to join a new union if other states seceded.

I bet the percentage of those supporting a re-union of the confederacy would rise significantly.

Posted by: Buggy Ding Dong on May 6, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many Seccessionist would still want to leave the union when they realize they would lose all their pieces of the federal pie...However they would immediately gain return massive unemployement and a crushing tax burden. Seems fair to me.

Almost makes you wish they could actually secede for a short period just to get through their thick skulls what it actually means. Then -- poof! -- restore them to the Union so the normal people stuck sharing states with them don't have to suffer.

Posted by: shortstop on May 6, 2009 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The War of Southern Independence (aka Lincolns' War, War of Secession, US Civil War)is NOT over.

Ironically the copperheads are now Republicans rather than Democrats.

Posted by: Buford on May 6, 2009 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Up here in Washington State, I haven't heard any talk of secession, but there has been talk on and off for the last few decades about splitting the state in two. Eastern Washington (the reich wing) and Western Washington (the sane ones). Haven't heard much about it since I moved back to the state last year, but the political divide here is pretty geographic. Same as when I lived in Florida. Split the state, let the northern half go all Deep South, and the southern half go all New England.

The tax revenues that the progressive parts of the states send to the regressive parts kind of squelch any real movement on those ideas, though.

Posted by: Michael W on May 6, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you'd asked me before 11/2008, I would have been pretty glad to see my state secede. Of course, it's right next to canada, so we just would have joined up rather than trying to go it alone.

Posted by: paul on May 6, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

"It's funny what three months of a black Democratic president will do to one's sense of patriotism".

Fixed it for you, Steve.

Posted by: bikelib on May 6, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ow. The stupid. It burns.

Posted by: jimbo on May 6, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

If the south seceded they would have zero pollution laws and would immediately start belching out as much general corruption as three Chinas.

Posted by: alan on May 6, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many Seccessionist would still want to leave the union when they realize they would lose [...] -- bcinaz, @14:47

Bring it on; you don't scare me none. We'd have lots and lots of cheap labour, what with no contraception allowed and child labour laws repealed. An' none of that there BS about mandated healthcare or welfare -- let God decide who's fit to survive and who ain't. We'd out-compete you on every front.

Yours, in (mostly red) south-west VA. Yeehaw!

Posted by: exlibra on May 6, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

. If you eliminate transplants, I'd bet the secessionists would be more like 80-85%.

I don't know where you live, but I drive all over the state of Georgia every day, and I haven't heard word one about secession from any of the admittedly willfully ignorant, Jesus lovin' gun totin' natives. It is certainly true that the legislature is full of the lowest common denominator hacks imaginable, but most people i know, or deal with just sort of roll their eyes at this nonsense.

Just another reason to bash the region. Enjoy!

Posted by: jb64 on May 6, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be interested in a survey that asked how people felt about other states' leaving the union. I'd be willing to bet that the support for Texan secession, for example, would be pretty high in the Northeast.

Posted by: noncarb on May 6, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I kind of like the Ecotopia idea, too, though I'd be willing to keep southern Cal in it if necessary (could we excise Orange County?). Maybe everything west of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, with Cal stuck underneath. Such a realignment and secession would necessarily involve a new constitution wherein we could build on the lessons of the past and do away with government by ballot initiative, which has been a disaster in California. We could adopt a radical new idea: vote for representatives and let THEM make laws. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by: President Lindsay on May 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not so much in favor of the south seceding as I am in favor of us getting rid of them.

And I think it should be mandatory for all Republicans to relocate to Jesustan.

I think it would be best for all concerned.

Posted by: alan on May 6, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

To add to what bikelib says, notice that 95% of African-Americans said that they would prefer to remain part of the U.S., doubtless because of leeriness of the "states' rights" bandwagon. So, if you consider that about 20% of Southerners are African-Americans, I estimate that the ratio among white Southerners is more like 53% pro-Union vs. 37% pro-secession, with the remaining 10% stuck in the middle. I realize this is Byron York math, but I thought it was worth making the point nonetheless.

Posted by: Patience on May 7, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

The South shall rise again!

And we shall then open up a can of old-fashioned New England whup-ass and finish the job General Sherman began.

Posted by: thalarctos on May 7, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

There's no shame living in a dying empire, many of you seem to be taking this personally. It's simply time for the Untied States to come to an end. It's not the first time in history it's happened and it won't be the last. We've had a "good run" for over 200 years and now it's coming to an end. The British, Russians, Germans, Romans have all experienced this, and now it's our turn.

Posted by: Frank Dracman on May 7, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK



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