One-in-five Americans are whistling Dixie on state secession

The People’s Republic of Colorado may not be a pipe dream after all for right-wing states’ rights zealots and left-wing peaceniks.


A new Zobgy/Middlebury Institute poll reports that 22 percent of respondents believe that states have the right to peaceably secede from the United States. The figures go up considerably among liberals, Latinos, blacks, young people and Southern residents.

From the press release:

The level of support for the right of secession was consistent in every region in the country, though the percentage was slightly higher in the South (26%) and the East (24%).  The figures were also consistent for every age group, but backing was strongest among younger adults, as 40% among those age 18 to 24 and 24% among those age 25 to 34 agreed states and regions have secession rights.

Broken down by race, the highest percentage agreeing with the right to secede was among Hispanics (43%) and African-Americans (40%). Among white respondents, 17% said states or regions should have the right to peaceably secede.

Politically, liberal thinkers were much more likely to favor the right to secession for states and regions, as 32% of mainline liberals agreed with the concept. Among the very liberal the support was only slightly less enthusiastic – 28% said they favored such a right. Meanwhile, just 17% of mainline conservatives thought it should exist as an option for states or regions of the nation.

Asked whether they would support a secessionist movement in their own state, 18% said they would, with those in the South most likely to say they would back such an effort. In the South, 24% said they would support such an effort, while 15% in the West and Midwest said the same. Here, too, younger adults were more likely than older adults to be supportive – 35% of those under age 30 would support secession in their state, compared to just 17% of those over age 65. Among African Americans, 33% said they would support secession, compared to just 15% of white adults. The more education a respondent had, the less likely they were to support secession – as 38% of those with less than a high school diploma would support it, compared to just 10% of those with a college degree.

To gauge the extent to which support for secession comes from a sense that the nation’s current system is not working, a separate question was asked about agreement that "the United States’ system is broken and cannot be fixed by traditional two-party politics and elections." Nearly half of respondents agreed with this statement, with 27% who somewhat agree and 18% who strongly agree. [Emphasis mine]

The telephone poll, conducted by Zogby International, included 1,209 American adult respondents. It was conducted July 9-13, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.9 per cent.

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Wendy Norris

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