POLITICS

Ralph Northam's Approval Rating Drops After Racist Yearbook Photo Surfaces

The Virginia governor has so far refused to heed calls for his resignation.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is losing popularity among his state’s voters after a racist photo from his medical school yearbook resurfaced last week.

Morning Consult measured a 19-point drop in Northam’s approval rating between surveys conducted before and after the photo went public on Feb. 1.

In a survey of Virginia voters throughout the month of January, the governor’s approval rating stood at 48 percent. A Feb. 2-3 survey found that his approval rating had fallen to just 29 percent. Over the same period, Northam’s disapproval rating rose 22 points.

Note that the January survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. The February survey, with its much smaller sample size, had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

The photo in question originally ran in Eastern Virginia Medical School’s 1984 yearbook. It appeared on Northam’s page in the yearbook and featured one individual wearing blackface alongside another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Big League Politics posted images of the page last Friday.

Northam quickly apologized and appeared to acknowledge that he was one of the two people in the photo. He later walked that back, claiming in a Saturday press conference that he had never seen the photo until it ran in news outlets last week. (He did, however, admit to once wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume.)

The governor ignored calls from both Democrats and Republicans to resign over the weekend and has vowed to serve out his term in office, which runs through 2021.

“I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness,” Northam said at a press conference on Saturday.

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