Poll: Ralph Northam’s Favorability Plummets, Few Demanding His Resignation

OCTOBER 23: Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam speaks to residents during a visit at Greenspring Retirement Community October 23, 2017 in Springfield, Virginia. Northam is running against Republican Ed Gillespie to be the next governor of Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam’s favorability has plummeted since his blackface scandal; however, few Virginians have called for his resignation, according to a poll.

A University of Virginia/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday found that only 17 percent of Virginia adults approved of Northam’s job performance, while 34 percent disapproved. Another 44 percent of Virginians neither approved nor disapproved of the governor’s performance.

Northam became embroiled in scandal as his 1984 medical school yearbook page featured two men, one in blackface and the other Ku Klux Klan attire. Northam initially apologized for the image but then denied appearing in the photo, although he did admit to wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexual misconduct accusations from two separate women in the 2000s. Fairfax contends that the encounters were consensual.

The poll shows a cratering favorability rating from previous polls. A Christopher Newport University (CNU) survey in December found that 59 percent of Virginians approved of Northam’s job performance, while only 24 percent disapproved. A January Morning Consult poll found similar results: 47 percent of Virginians approved of Northam, while 25 percent disapproved of the Virginia governor.

Northam won the Virginia gubernatorial election in 2017 against Republican nominee Ed Gillespie with 54 percent of the vote.

Although Northam’s popularity has diminished substantially, only three-in-ten Virginians want the governor to resign. Thirty-one percent of Virginians said that Northam should resign, while 43 percent he should not leave the governor’s mansion. The UVA poll contrasts with a Washington Post/Schar School poll which found that 47 percent of Virginians believe should resign and 47 percent believe he should not leave his post.

Only 21 percent of respondents said that Northam should be impeached.

However, more Virginians said that Fairfax should in the wake of his sexual misconduct allegations. Thirty-five percent said that Fairfax should resign, 34 percent remain unsure about whether the Lt. Gov. should resign, and 25 percent said Fairfax should not resign.

In contrast, only 19 percent said that Attorney General Herring should resign and only 14 percent favored impeaching Herring.

Northam, Fairfax, and Herring’s various scandals carry implications as Virginia will soon re-elect new members for their state legislature. Democrats held a 13-point lead over Republicans in a generic ballot test for the November elections at 34 percent for Democrats and 21 percent for Republicans.

However, the poll surveyed Virginia adults, not registered or likely voters and does not serve as a forecast of the electorate for the 2019 Virginia state elections. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball noted self-identified Republicans were much more inclined to express uncertainty about their voting intentions in the upcoming elections, which could suggest that Republicans could rise in the polls.

Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jack Wilson told Breitbart News Sunday’s Amanda House that, although Virginia has trended Democrat in recent years, they can counteract northern Virginia with more outreach and engagement with Virginia’s more rural and conservative base.

“To make sure that our people in the more conservative rural areas of Virginia get registered to vote so that we can offset northern Virginia,” Wilson said. “We can counteract that with more conservative registration elsewhere in the state.”

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