If a new poll is accurate, Black Virginians are more willing than white residents are to forgive Gov. Ralph Northam for his blackface scandal.
The Washington Post-Schar School poll that was released on Saturday found that Virginia residents overall are split at 47 percent each on whether Northam should resign. However, 58 percent of Black Virginians want the governor to stay in office, compared with 37 percent of whites share their view.
Meanwhile, Northam said Saturday that he has no intention of resigning but promised to pursue racial reconciliation.
On Feb. 1, the 59-year-old Democrat apologized for appearing in a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe from his 1984 medical school yearbook. One day later, at a bizarre press conference, the governor denied that he was one of those people in the picture but admitted to applying black shoe polish to his face for a Michael Jackson dance competition.
The Washington Post poll also found that more African Americans than whites in the Democratic party supported the besieged governor. A clear majority of Black Democrats, 57 percent, supported Northam remaining in office, compared with 49 percent of white Democrats.
At the same time, about 47 percent of African Americans overall said the governor has accomplished a great deal or good amount as governor, compared with 30 percent of whites.
“He’s been a good governor, and he’s been good, as far as I know, to black people,” 76-year-old Louise Butler, an African-American woman who lives in Richmond and grew up there when the city was segregated, told The Post. She doubts that Northam still holds whatever racial views he held in 1984.
When the scandal began, calls for Northam to resign came from state and national Democratic leaders. But it appears that Northam could get a pass because a political crisis among the state’s top three Democrats could pave the way for a Republican to become governor if the three Democrats resign.
Days after the racist pictures associated with Northam surfaced, Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is African American and would take over as governor if Northam resigns, found himself engulfed in a sexual assault scandal. Attorney General Mark Herring, who is also a Democrat, admitted last week that he too has worn blackface.