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Black voters were a big reason McAuliffe won in Virginia

11/7/2013, 9:34 a.m.
McAuliffe won black voters by a 90-8 percent margin, a similar spread to the 93-6 percent President Barack Obama ran ...
McAuliffe gets a hug from a supporter on Nov. 5

Having Obama’s back

Some have suggested that President Obama being in the state for McAuliffe in the final days before the election may have hurt the Democrats’ margin of victory because of the president’s struggling approval ratings. But that’s not the case for black voters, a key plank of the Democratic coalition. They continue to strongly back the president, the first African American to hold the office.

Black voters have felt like Obama has been under constant attack from an intransigent opposition. And, just a year removed from his historic reelection, the president finds himself at the lowest point of his presidency. It’s when he most needs his base.

First Lady Michelle Obama drove that point home in an ad she cut for McAuliffe that aired in predominately black Hampton Roads.

"We all worked so hard last year to re-elect Barack as president,” she says in the ad, “and whether it’s building good schools, or creating good jobs, or ensuring women can make their own decisions about their health, the issues we were fighting for then matter just as much in Virginia today. … This election will be close, and every vote counts, so I hope I can count on you to make your voice heard for Terry McAuliffe.”

Cuccinelli, who took the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court, touted that in his gubernatorial bid in an attempt to turnout conservatives. It very well may have accomplished that, but it also may have helped turn out black voters, who are strongly supportive of Obama and the law, in part, because it is so closely tied to the president’s legacy.

Cuccinelli has also entertained birtherism, questioning where the president was born. “Someone is going to have to come forward with nailed down testimony that he was born in place B, wherever that is,” Cuccinelli said in April. “You know, the speculation is Kenya. And that doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility.”

And Cuccinelli even suggested that he agreed that Obama won the 2012 election, including Virginia, because of voter fraud.

Though he later walked back those comments, they left a mark with black voters.

Obama turnout team/Obama appearance

The McAuliffe campaign hired some of the same people from the Obama 2012 Virginia team to target voters and get them out to the polls.

As to be expected in an off-year election, black voters – like all other groups -- did not turn out with in the raw numbers they did in 2012. But McAuliffe with the help of the former Obama campaign team got them to be the same percentage of the electorate and delivered the same margins, which was always the goal.

Impact in New Jersey

Black voters also made an impact in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) won an overwhelming reelection victory with 60 percent of the vote and 21 percent of the black vote.

In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won just 4 percent of black voters.

That helped Christie run up his margin. He and his team have been pointing to that broad-based victory as evidence of the roadmap forward for Republicans to win.

But when Christie was matched up with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the New Jersey exit polls showed Clinton winning narrowly 48 to 44 percent.

What made the difference? In large measure -- black voters.

Against Clinton in a presidential race, Christie’s support with those black voters nosedived – from 20 percent to 5 percent.

And that doesn’t take into account how many fewer black voters showed up from key North Jersey counties than did in 2012.