Virginians divided on whether Northam should resign as Virginia governor: poll

A new poll shows Virginians are sharply divided over whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should resign over a blackface controversy that has engulfed the commonwealth.

Almost half of Virginians polled — 47 percent — in the Washington Post – Schar School poll released late Saturday say Northam should step down, while the same percentage said he should remain in office.

Just 6 percent had no opinion.

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More than half of Republicans questioned — 56 percent — said he should resign, pollsters found, a sentiment echoed by 40 percent of Democrats.

A majority of black respondents — 58 percent — say Northam should stay in office, according to the survey, compared to 37 percent say he should leave the governor’s mansion. Forty-eight percent of white Virginians polled said he should resign and 46 percent said he should not.

Northam initially apologized for appearing in a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page that showed a man in blackface and another individual wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe, but has since said he is not either person in the image. He acknowledged at a press conference that he once wore blackface to dress up like Michael Jackson.

A majority of Virginians in the new poll — 60 percent — also said Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who admitted to wearing blackface once in college, should not resign while roughly a third said he should.

Just more than one in 10 respondents said they had either worn blackface or know another person who has, pollsters found.

The poll of 706 residents of Virginia, conducted last Wednesday through Friday, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.