The African American vote is becoming a more powerful force with each race for public office. African American voters represented 20% of the electorate in the recent Virginia governor’s race. Reports show that over 90% of African American voters supported Democrat Terry McAuliffe, which is mostly likely the reason he won the race over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe won women overall by a 51-42 percent margin. But he lost white women by 16 points (54-38 percent) and won black women by an astonishing 91-7 percent spread. They made up 11 percent of all Virginia voters. Black men voted at a similar margin as women, 90-9 percent, and made up a similar percentage of the electorate, 9 percent.
These margins resemble what black voters delivered for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the 2009 Virginia race, but turnout was stronger, up 4 points.
Black voters turned out at exactly the percentage they make up of the overall population. But other key minority groups underperformed. Even though Latinos, who have grown four-fold since 1990 in Virginia, make up 8 percent of the population, they were just 4 percent of the electorate Tuesday, down from 5 percent in 2012. Asians make up 6 percent of the population, but were just 1 percent of Tuesday’s voters, down from 3 percent in 2012.
So why did black voters come out in the numbers they did? There are several possible explanations, but it starts with policy, especially Cuccinelli’s support for voter ID laws. Cuccinelli also opposed the president’s health-care law, entertained the notion that Obama won the presidential election because of voter fraud, questioned where Obama was born. All that made for Obama’s base being fired up to defend their president. On top of all that, McAuliffe hired many of the old Obama campaign hands, who were able to specifically target black voters.
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