Plurality of Virginians say Northam should stay in office, says new poll

New polling in the wake of weeks of controversy for the top politicians in Virginia shows that Governor Ralph Northam is suffering weak approval numbers, but that doesn’t mean Virginians want him out of office. A new University of Virginia Center for Politics/Ipsos poll found that 17 percent of Virginia adults surveyed said they approve of Northam’s job performance, while 34 percent disapprove. 

Of those polled, however, just 31 percent said the governor should resign, while 43 precent said he shouldn’t. Only 21 percent of those surveyed believe Northam should be impeached. 

Those findings appear on par with similar polling by Quinnipiac University, which found that almost half of Virginia voters said Northam should not resign from office. Forty-two percent of those polled said he should. Quinnipiac found a majority — 65 percent — think Northam should not be impeached, while 26 percent thought he should be impeached. 

Northam continues to serve as the state’s governor, resisting calls to step down after a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page surfaced earlier this month. He admitted to darkening his face on a single occasion in 1984.

Northam told “CBS This Morning” last week that he’s “not going anywhere.” 

“You know, I don’t live in a vacuum. And so yes, I have heard it,” Northam said, referring to calls for his resignation. “I have thought about resigning, but I’ve also thought about what Virginia needs right now. And I really think that I’m in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level.”

Meanwhile, just over a third of Virginians — 35 percent — think Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax should step down, after he was accused of two separate allegations of sexual assault. A quarter said he should not resign. Among those polled, 28 percent think Fairfax should be impeached, and 33 percent said he should not be impeached. 

Virginia House Democrats have for the moment backed off of calls for Fairfax’s impeachment, saying they would be deferring to law enforcement officials to carry our their investigation into the accusations against Fairfax “outside the political arena.”

Currently, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, in Massachusetts, is the only jurisdiction conducting an investigation into the allegations against Fairfax. Attorneys for Fairfax’s first accuser Dr. Vanessa Tyson said in a statement last week that their client would be meeting with the district attorney’s staff and Suffolk County law enforcement officials “to detail her allegations of sexual assault.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the state Democratic caucus reiterated its calls for Fairfax to resign, but added, “[W]e are willing to work in a bipartisan manner with members of the General Assembly on a path forward.”

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