Democrats urgently ‘focus on Black voters’ in Virginia’s nail-biting gubernatorial race: report

Democrats urgently ‘focus on Black voters’ in Virginia’s nail-biting gubernatorial race: report
Terry McAuliffe in 2013, Wikimedia Commons

This Tuesday, November 2, one of the most closely watched political battles in the United States will be Virginia's gubernatorial election — which, according to recent polls, has found Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin in a dead heat. In an article published by Politico on the Monday before Election Day, reporters Elena Schneider and Maya King stress that African-American turnout is crucial for McAuliffe — and without it, Virginia may have a Republican governor-elect come November 3.

"In interviews with Politico, more than a dozen top Democrats involved in the Virginia campaign — from strategists on the ground to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — expressed concern that Black support for McAuliffe is weaker and less enthusiastic than it could be in a razor-thin race in a blue-trending state," Schneider and King report. "Against that backdrop, McAuliffe and Black Democratic surrogates are racing across Virginia before Tuesday's election to drive up Black turnout and support."

If McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, loses to Republican Youngkin, it will be a bad sign for Democrats going into the 2022 midterms. Virginia, which President Joe Biden won by 10% in 2020, was once deep red but has arguably become the most Democrat-friendly state in the South. Virginia has a Democratic governor (Ralph Northam), two Democratic U.S. senators (Tim Kaine and Mark Warner) and a Democrat-controlled state legislature — not to mention centrist Rep. Abigail Spanberger and other Democrats who represent Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"The focus on Black voters in the final stretch of the campaign illustrates the critical role they'll play on Tuesday," Schneider and King emphasize. "Not only did McAuliffe win a prior term as governor with the overwhelming support of Black voters, especially Black women, every national election since then has proved how critical they are to Democratic chances of victory in close races. While some involved in Virginia have taken heart in a late upswing in energy, others stressed that Black voters are exhausted from the fight against Donald Trump and frustrated with a lack of progress in Washington."

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