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Poll: Most Virginians don’t want resignations

By Emily Holter

Capital News Service

Virginians have low approval ratings of Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, but most people say no one should resign or be impeached, according to a recent poll by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. It found that of the state’s three top officials, Attorney General Mark Herring is the best-positioned to remain in office.

Over the past month, the state’s top three leaders, all Democrats, have been under scrutiny after several scandals, and some politicians and groups have called for their resignations.

Northam has been in hot water after the discovery of a photograph in his medical school yearbook showing a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam initially apologized and said he was in the photograph, which was on his page with other photos of him. He then denied he was in the picture. He later admitted to putting “a little bit of” shoe polish on his face to imitate Michael Jackson in a 1984 dance competition.

Two women have accused Fairfax of sexual assault. He has denied the allegations.

After calling for Northam’s resignation, Attorney General Mark Herring apologized for wearing blackface when he was 19 years old to imitate a rapper.

With that backdrop, University of Virginia’s Center for Politics asked a representative sample of Virginia adults about their opinions of Northam, Fairfax and Herring.

The poll found that of the three leaders, more people believe Fairfax should quit. Thirty-five percent believe Fairfax should resign, and 28 percent favored impeachment.

Only 17 percent of Virginians approve of the governor’s job performance. However, only 31 percent of respondents say he should resign, and 21 percent believe he should be impeached.
According to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, there was a strong racial divide over whether Fairfax should resign. Thirty-nine percent of white respondents said they favored his resignation, compared with only 8 percent of black respondents.

Of the three officials, Herring had the fewest number of people suggesting he resign (19 percent) or be impeached (14 percent).

The poll involved interviewing 636 adults from Feb. 15-19. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.