SPARTANBURG, SC (Nov. 5, 2014) – Some South Carolina voters are upset over an exit poll they received which referenced race and slavery.
The poll, which was handed out to voters in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg asked them to agree or disagree on statements on whether blacks don’t work hard enough to advance economically, are too demanding in their pursuit of equal rights and are hindered by the effects of slavery and discrimination.
“I took this poll in Seneca,” wrote Matt Alexander, on the WSPA Facebook page. “I didn’t answer some of the questions. They were overtly racist.”
“I actually thought it was a joke,” wrote Bonnie Lemley. “Apparently, it wasn’t.”
The poll was conducted by David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson University. Woodard said he was trying to prove that race has no bearing on whether whites vote for political candidates.
“It was designed to take advantage of a political moment of Senator Tim Scott’s election as the first African-American from a southern state since reconstruction,” said Woodard. “It was not designed to be provocative.”
Woodard said the controversial statements mentioned in his polls were used by pollsters for decades and that’s why he chose to include it. He was surprised by the reaction.
“We do this every day. We didn’t think too much about it until we got it out in the field and saw that there was some reaction,” he said.
Woodard partnered with Paul White Jr., a doctoral candidate in political science from University of South Carolina on this project. White handed out polls in Columbia.
“You had liberals getting offended. You had conservatives getting offended. It was all over the place,” said White.
About 1,000 exit polls were handed out. Woodard and White plan to publish the finding in a research paper slated for release in January.
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