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Poll: Half of Va. Dems Still Approve of Northam Despite Yearbook Scandal

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, accompanied by his wife Pamela Northam, announces he will not resign during a news conference in Richmond, Va., February 2, 2019. (Jay Paul/REUTERS)

Half of Virginia Democrats still approve of Governor Ralph Northam’s job performance despite the recent emergence of a racist photo from his 1984 medical-school-yearbook page, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday.

Northam’s net approval has plummeted 41 points among all Virginia voters and 38 points among Virginia Democrats in the two days since the emergence of the yearbook photo, which features one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan uniform.

The share of all Virginia voters who approve of Northam’s performance fell from 48 percent before the yearbook controversy to just 29 percent in the new survey, which relied on 291 respondents and was conducted this weekend. The percentage of voters who disapprove of Northam’s performance increased from 26 percent to 48 percent across the same two polls. Among Democrats, the governor’s approval declined 20 percentage points from 70 to 50 percent during that time. Northam’s approval rating among Republicans slid from 31 percent pre-controversy to just 19 percent post-controversy.

When the photo emerged Friday, Northam initially apologized and conceded that he did in fact appear in the image. He then backtracked during a Saturday afternoon press conference in which he denied appearing in the photo but admitted to “darkening his face” for a Michael Jackson costume while in college.

The press conference did not sway Northam’s Democratic critics, including Virginia senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, who have continued their calls for his resignation. Northam has resisted those calls thus far and there is no indication the state legislature plans to initiate impeachment proceedings at the moment.

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