The Chatter: Bluegrass Poll finds opposition to same-sex marriage ruling, support for Jefferson Davis statue

08/04/2015 10:55 AM

Most respondents in the latest Bluegrass Poll believe the U.S. Supreme Court erred in its ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, but results released on Monday indicate the controversial decision’s impact on Kentucky’s gubernatorial race is minimal.

And by an even greater majority, those polled say the marble statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis should remain in the Capitol Rotunda.

SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll for The Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV, polled 863 registered Kentucky voters from July 22 through July 28 and found that 53 percent of respondents disagreed with the high court versus 38 percent who agree and 10 percent unsure, according to poll results. The survey has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

But the poll found the divisive ruling doesn’t favor Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who declined to appeal a federal court decision overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban, anymore than Republican Matt Bevin, who has criticized Conway for his refusal during the gubernatorial campaign.

From the Herald-Leader:

In a related question, 34 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Bevin because he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling, and 34 percent said they were more likely to vote for Conway because he agrees with it. However, the pro-Bevin respondents were older, on average, and older registered voters tend to show up on Election Day in the greatest numbers.

Overall, the poll found that 76 percent of Bevin’s supporters disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling and 59 percent of Conway’s supporters agreed with it.

SurveyUSA also asked respondents whether the Davis statue, unveiled in 1936, should be removed from the Capitol Rotunda, an issue sparked by deadly shootings at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., in June.

A whopping 73 percent of 863 respondents said the statue should stay where it is versus 17 percent who say the marble rendering should be removed and another 10 percent unsure. The poll had a 3 percent margin of error.

The state Historic Properties Advisory Committee, after soliciting public comment on the Davis statue, is set to consider the matter at a special meeting Wednesday. Confederate flag supporters rallied on the Capitol steps last month, in part to defend the Davis statue, and staged a demonstration at this weekend’s Fancy Farm picnic.

From The Courier-Journal:

“It should remain because it’s not racial — it’s part of history,” said Shirley Powers, one respondent in the poll. “I don’t understand why they want to change everything that had to do with history.”

Powers, who lived in Georgia before moving to Frankfort — “a Southerner and proud of it” — argued that the Civil War ended long before anyone living today was even born. The statue has “been there for years, and I think it should stay there,” she said.

But David Smith, 52, of Lexington, Ky., said the Confederacy lost the war, and that at some point, the country needs to put away negative influences. He said the statue only serves to remind certain groups of people of a time when their views were favored and allowed people to profit from slavery.

“As long as you keep them out, what you are saying is that ‘we haven’t lost sight of those views,’” he said.

Bevin defends Fancy Farm speech on The Joe Elliott Show

After delivering a speech lacking in partisan sizzle at an event known for such pomp, Bevin again defended his decision to forgo Fancy Farm tradition during a radio interview Monday on The Joe Elliott Show.

He also used the first moments of his half-hour appearance, first reported by The Courier-Journal, to criticize the media for not reporting his thanks for picnic organizers.

“I would encourage people to look at the entirety of what I said,” Bevin said. “It’s interesting how the media always reports on their own report of their own report and it becomes an echo chamber of often non-reality. What I said was let’s not fail to appreciate what an amazing event this is and I thanked those who put it on, but what I said as well is, to your point, that … it’s started to become more and more about being intentionally just nasty. Not clever, not political, just personal and nasty and divisive at the expense of anything productive, redemptive or forward-thinking on any front.”

Bevin, however, only thanked St. Jerome Catholic Church and those who attended Fancy Farm before starting his remarks.

“Thank you all for being here,” Bevin said as he stepped to the podium before leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. “Thank you to St. Jerome’s parish. I thank you for every one of you for taking time out of your day to be here. The one thing that discourages me, however, about this process is that we literally are celebrating the very worst elements of the political process.”

From that moment until the University of Kentucky fight song played him off the stage for exceeding the five-minute time limit, Bevin thanked no one.

His full speech can be viewed here:

After his remarks, Bevin called Fancy Farm “an extraordinary tradition” before again criticizing the partisan tone of Kentucky’s signature political event.

Elliott, who lauded Bevin for the tone of his Fancy Farm speech, also discussed health care, early childhood education, workforce development, Kentucky’s economy and new emission guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the Republican nominee.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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