WHISTLING PAST DIXIE…. On the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, CNN released a poll that suggests some of the issues related to the conflict “still divide the public.”

In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, roughly one in four Americans said they sympathize more with the Confederacy than the Union, a figure that rises to nearly four in ten among white Southerners.

When asked the reason behind the Civil War, whether it was fought over slavery or states’ rights, 52 percent of all Americas said the leaders of the Confederacy seceded to keep slavery legal in their state, but a sizeable 42 percent minority said slavery was not the main reason why those states seceded. […]

When broken down by political party, most Democrats said southern states seceded over slavery, independents were split and most Republicans said slavery was not the main reason that Confederate states left the Union.

The regional differences were especially striking. Respondents were asked, “When you think about the Civil War, if you had to choose, would you say that you sympathize more with the northern states that were part of the Union or the southern states that were part of the Confederacy?” Support for the Union was overwhelming in the Midwest (68%), Northeast (79%), and West (84%), but in the South, only 48% said they were more inclined to sympathize with the Union.

That’s not good.

As for the politics, Jamelle Bouie explained, “From voters to elected officials, the Republican Party is dominated by white Southerners, particularly those from the Deep South. What’s more, and for incredibly obvious reasons, white Southerners are most likely to sympathize with the Confederacy and its decision to secede from the Union. When considered together, it’s no real surprise to learn that Republicans are most likely to disagree with the notion that slavery drove the Southern states to split from the North.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.