Despite the blackface and racial yearbook photo scandal embroiling Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., most African-Americans in Virginia do not want to see the governor step down, according to the latest Washington Post-Schar School Poll.
The numbers are split dead even among Virginians at 47 percent apiece for stepping down vs. not stepping down, but there is a wide disagreement among whites and African-Americans, the poll revealed:
- Whites believed he should step down by a margin of 2 percentage points (48 percent step down vs. 46 percent he should not step down).
- African-Americans widely favored him staying in office by a 19-point margin (58 percent saying he stay vs. 37 percent he should step down).
"The data here are so at odds with what party leaders have led us to believe — that the governor has no support to govern effectively anymore," Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell told the Post.
The news alone has damaged the governor's reputation, though.
Despite positive approval ratings last year, Gov. Northam's 43 percent approval is the lowest for a Virginia governor in a Post poll since 1997, according to the report.
The governor's changing account might be the cause, per the Post.
After initially apologizing for the photo of two people found in his medical school yearbook – one in blackface, one wearing the white of the Klu Klux Klan — Gov. Northam then questioned whether it was him in the photo, while also submitting he had once worn blackface for a Michael Jackson costume.
After saying he was not either of the men in the photo, more than 70 percent of Virginians did not believe Gov. Northam, according to the poll.
"Initially, I could have forgiven him, and I think he could have gotten past it — it was something that was 35 years ago," David Hughes, as 54-year-old African-American Newport News sheriff's deputy, told the Post. "What really bothered me was the change in story.
"Typically, if a person changes their story, it's not because they remember more. It's because they're being deceptive."