A strong majority of Virginia voters want Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign in the wake of his blackface scandal, according to a new poll conducted for the liberal website Daily Kos.
The online survey finds that 60 percent of Virginians want Northam to quit, with just 24 percent of voters saying he should stay. That includes majorities of Democrats (58 say he should quit, 27 percent say he shouldn’t), Republicans (72 to 15 percent), independents (52 to 28 percent), people who voted for Northam in 2017 (56 to 28 percent), black voters (64 to 27 percent) and white voters (60 to 22 percent).
Northam has just a 34 percent approval rating in the survey, with 50 percent disapproving. That 16-point gap is similar to the 17-point unfavorable gap President Trump holds in the Democratic-leaning state.
Northam has refused to resign, and as other top Democrats have become ensnared in their own scandals this week it appears more likely now than it did days ago that he may indeed hang onto office.
Survey respondents were much more closely divided on whether the legislature should move to remove Northam from office: 41 percent said the legislature should, and 39 percent said it shouldn’t. That question appears to be moot, as there seems little appetite in either party in Richmond to go through that arduous process.
The poll, shared first with TPM, was conducted online from Feb. 5-8 by Civiqs, a reputable online polling firm.
“Daily Kos commissioned this important poll to shine a light on Virginians’ real position on Northam in the wake of revelations about his racist actions and his irresponsibility in confronting them,” Daily Kos communications director Carolyn Fiddler said. “The best antidote to hot takes about Northam’s viability as governor is hard data. The results of this Civiqs survey reveal key insights into how registered voters from each party and key demographic groups view Northam’s refusal to leave the governor’s mansion.”
A few caveats. First, this is a poll taken from Tuesday through Friday, as the highly chaotic story continued to develop and other top Virginia politicians became ensnared in their own scandals, complicating the picture. Snap polls immediately after major events often don’t capture how voters will feel about an issue after things cool off, and that may be especially true in this case.
Second, Daily Kos has called for Northam to resign after endorsing him in 2017.
Third, some pollsters are still somewhat skeptical about online polling, though this survey’s overall methodology appears to be consistent with best methods for online polling and the sample’s demographic makeup closely mirrors the Virginia electorate’s.
Civiqs has its own large representative opt-in survey panel, and constructed a demographically representative sample Virginia panel members who responded to emails requesting for them to participate.
Also, the poll’s numbers aren’t far from another reputable online pollster, Morning Consult, which found Northam with a 29 percent approval rating with 48 percent disapproving of him in a poll released earlier this week.