Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico has one of the nation’s most diverse populations, but voters here track with mainstream national views when it comes to the Washington Redskins.
More than two-thirds – or 71 percent – of registered voters surveyed last week in a Journal flash poll said the National Football League franchise should keep its historic, but controversial, team name.
Just 18 percent of the respondents statewide said the Redskins should change their name, while 11 percent said they were not sure.
“Some people may have speculated that New Mexico would be different from the national results, given that we are a majority minority state, but that did not happen,” said Brian Sanderoff, the president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll.
“There are some who are clearly attached to the traditions and heritage that link the Redskins name to the team,” Sanderoff said. “But there are other people that see it in a vacuum and just see a racial slur.”
At least three national polls conducted in the past two years found a majority of public support for keeping the Redskins team name. Those polls included a December 2013 survey by Public Policy Polling that found 71 percent of Americans surveyed were in favor of keeping the name – the same figure as the Journal flash poll.
Registered Republican voters in New Mexico were more likely than Democratic voters to feel the Redskins should keep their controversial name, though a majority of voters from both main political parties supported retention of the Redskins brand.
The survey results did not vary significantly depending on the age of the respondent.
The NFL team has come under pressure to change its name in recent years, with members of Congress and Native American activists criticizing it for being offensive. Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins’ trademark registration after ruling that the team’s name and logo was disparaging.
Team owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the moniker, saying it honors Native Americans.
The debate over the Redskins team name shows words mean different things to different people, Sanderoff said.
“Some feel that changing the Washington Redskins name is taking political correctness to a new level, while others feel that words or symbols that are considered racially offensive to some should be eliminated from the public discourse,” he said.
The question asked in the Journal flash poll was: “Should the Washington Redskins, a National Football League team, keep their name or change their name?”
The Journal flash poll was conducted July 10 and is based on a random sample of 557 registered voters statewide.
Seventy-seven percent of the interviews were conducted via landline telephones, using a recorded interactive voice response system. The remaining 23 percent of the interviews were conducted via cellphone, using professional telephone interviewers.
The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.