Pulitzer Prize Finalists: Emanuel AME coverage (copy)

A peace march across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was held after a white gunman killed nine black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church, a tragedy that threatened to divide the city along racial lines. File/Grace Beahm/Staff

More than half of black Southerners — 52 percent — report they were discriminated against in the past year because of their race or ethnicity, while 18 percent of whites did, according to new data from Winthrop University's poll of 11 Southern states.

There is also a joint recognition among some in the South that the nation should recognize its ties to European influences, the numbers indicate.

A near equal number of whites and blacks, 30 percent and 28 percent, respectively, feel that America should preserve its “white European heritage,” pollsters said Thursday.

The reasons behind the response could vary.

“We’re not sure what resulted in this common outlook; it could be something as simple as the realization that we sprung from the colonies of a European power," said poll director Scott Huffmon of Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

"We do know, however, that the phrase 'white European heritage' clearly held distinct meaning for some. Nearly half of those who viewed the Confederate flag favorably agreed with the preservation of white European heritage.”

The numbers also show changing attitudes.

For example, the pollsters said both black and white Southerners generally agree "people of different races should be allowed to live wherever they please and marry whomever they please, as well as believe that all races should be treated equally."

But there were stark differences, as well, including on the question whether whether whites or racial minorities were “under attack in this country.”

Some 38 percent of whites and 11 percent of blacks agreed that whites were under attack, while 51 percent of whites and 89 percent of blacks agreed that racial minorities were under attack.

“Confederate flag supporters in the South are notably more likely than others to view whites as the victims in today’s political environment,” Huffmon said.

The updated numbers come as Winthrop last year polled in the 11 Southern states of the former Confederacy. The school is considered the most visible and routine pollster in the state, issuing its numbers on a variety of topics several times a year.

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The Winthrop team surveyed 969 residents in the states by landline and cellphones between Nov. 10-20 and Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Results have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.15 at the 95 percentage confidence level.

The states surveyed in this latest installation were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The data further showed that African-Americans and whites in the South "are nearly mirror images of each other" in identifying what barriers hold blacks back in society.

"Over half of African-American respondents said that racial discrimination is the main reason blacks can’t get ahead, while over half of whites said that African-Americans are responsible for their own condition," the pollsters said.

Support for the Confederate flag was a dividing point in that question, too.

"Flag supporters showed a stronger trend, with 16 percent blaming racial discrimination and 72 percent saying black people who can’t get ahead are responsible for their own condition," the survey said.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.