About one-third of Americans say that wearing blackface for a Halloween costume is “sometimes” or “always” acceptable, according to new Pew Research data.

Among all respondents to the survey, released Monday, 19 percent said blackface was “sometimes” acceptable in a Halloween costume, and 15 percent said it was “always” acceptable, for a net 34 percent.

A net 53 percent said it was at least “rarely” acceptable, with 37 percent saying it was “never acceptable.”


Republicans and respondents who lean Republican were more likely than Democratic respondents to say blackface was acceptable. More than half–51 percent–of Republican respondents said it was “always” or “sometimes” acceptable, compared to 21 percent of Democrats.

And 39 percent of white respondents said it was always or sometimes acceptable to wear blackface for a Halloween costume, with 18 percent of blacks saying the same.

The survey was conducted from Jan. 22, Feb. 5, almost entirely before the blackface scandal that erupted in Virginia politics this month.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has rejected calls from his own party to resign after a blackface photo in his medical yearbook surfaced. Northam now says that he does not believe he was in the photo, which shows one person in blackface and another in a KKK robe. He also admitted to wearing blackface to dress as Michael Jackson for a dance contest.

Amid the outcry, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) also admitted to wearing blackface in college to dress as a rapper.

The controversies have reignited national conversations on blackface and racism. Another recent poll from the Economist and YouGov found that 16 percent of people overall said it was acceptable for a white person to wear blackface, not specifying, as the Pew survey did, that it would be for a Halloween costume.

Pew asked the question of 3,314 adults as part of its American Trends Panel survey. The margin of error was +/- 2.3 percentage points.