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Disapproval Remains; But Voters Want Top Three To Stay


In the wake of Governor Ralph Northam’s “Blackface” scandal, his disapproval rating has more than doubled since December, from 24 percent to 49 percent, according to a new survey of registered voters by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Asked if Northam should resign, a slight majority says he should stay in office (52 percent – 42 percent). In his own party, 29 percent of Democrats say he should resign.

Disapproval of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault in 2000 and 2004, jumped from 13 percent in December to 39 percent in this survey. Among voters who know about the allegations, 45 percent said he should stay in office and 42 percent said he should resign. Disapproval of Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted wearing Blackface as a costume in 1980, went from 17 percent to 28 percent. Among voters who know about Herring’s admission, 64 percent said he should stay in office and 28 percent said he should resign.

“Probably because of the nature of the allegations against him, Justin Fairfax appears more damaged than Mark Herring,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center.

However, 23 percent of voters appear unaware of even the highly publicized Northam scandal, so any “Top Three” drag on Democratic candidates may be limited overall.

With control of both Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on the line this November, Democrats hold a slight edge on the generic ballot test, 43 percent to 39 percent.

“If Democrats increase their participation rate significantly over the 2015 cycle, it could have a tremendous impact, as we saw in both 2017 and 2018,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.

Here are some of the other findings in the survey:

• Asked which party cares about the middle class, the working class, the poor, African-Americans, women, men, and children, voters choose Democrats in all but one category. Voters say Republicans care about men.

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• Democrats’ push for fewer abortion restrictions and Republicans’ push for more abortion restrictions are both out of step with the median voter’s preference on this contentious policy issue.

The Wason Center conducted 1,067 interviews of registered voters, including 342 on landline and 725 on cell phone, conducted March 11-31. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

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