News & Politics

Poll Finds More People Want the Redskins to Change Their Name

A survey finds 71 percent of people say the team should not change its name, down from 79 percent less than a year ago.

Never say "NEVER" again? Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The Redskins are touting the results of a new poll that says a majority of Americans do not think the team should change its name, even though the number of people who feel that way is actually shrinking from previous surveys.

In a poll released yesterday by Public Policy Polling, 71 percent of respondents say the team should not get rid of its current name, which many, including definitions in several mainstream dictionaries, consider a racial slur. That’s down from the 79 percent who told the Associated Press the same thing last May. The number of people who think the team should change its name, meanwhile, is up, with 18 percent telling Public Policy Polling that Washington’s NFL team should get a new moniker, up from 11 percent in the AP poll.

Still, the team, looking for any blue sky after a woeful 3-13 season, is strongly touting the show of support for its name. “The results of this poll are solidly in line with the message we have heard from fans and Native Americans for months—our name represents a tradition, passion and heritage that honors Native Americans,” the franchise said in a statement.

The Oneida Indian Nation, a tribe from Upstate New York that sponsored a season-long publicity campaign urging the Washington team to get a new name, blasted the poll.

“This flawed poll conveniently leaves out that fact that the R-word is a defined racial slur, and it fails to mention that a diverse coalition of Native American organizations, civil-rights groups, public-health organizations, religious leaders and sports icons have been joined by governors, the D.C. Council, Republican and Democratic Members of Congress and even the President of the United States in saying that now is the time for the mascot to change,” said Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin. “Neither the Washington team nor its owner appears to understand that there is no poll or financial transaction that can solve a moral problem.”

Dan Snyder loudly said last year that he will never change the team’s name, but if the trend continues, the Washington team’s owner may one day find himself in the minority.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.