NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Democrats across Virginia expressed profound disappointment on Wednesday after Republicans romped to an unlikely victory in the governor’s race, an ominous sign for the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
But one group refused to be blamed for the party’s poor showing: Black voters and elected officials.
Fears about Black turnout and a lack of enthusiasm did not materialize in Tuesday’s results, as former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, ran close to expected totals in the state’s majority-Black areas. Instead, Black state leaders and voters who backed Mr. McAuliffe said the results were a sign that the party could not rely on minority voters to cover its cratering totals in more white areas of the state, particularly in rural communities that voted heavily for Glenn Youngkin, the Republican businessman who won the governor’s race.
“I believe that Black voters are easily the first target for when things don’t go for how they want it to go,” said Marcia Price, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates who won re-election.
“It’s a trash take to look at us and not the middle,” she said. “The middle said Youngkin is more palatable than Trump and they were willing to take a chance with him.”
Ms. Price’s words reflect a sense among the state’s Black political class that communities of color are often blamed when Democrats lose.
At the grass-roots level, voters in Newport News also said that their support for Mr. McAuliffe did not mean they were satisfied with the performance of Democrats in Washington.
Several voters cited a radio advertisement that had been playing on local stations saying Black voters should not back Mr. McAuliffe because Democrats cared about Black communities only during election season. They rejected the ad’s plea to stay home but said the general theme resonated, and they urged Democrats in Congress to pass bold legislation on President Biden’s core campaign promises, including climate change, police reform and economic investments in Black communities.
“A lot of people are upset with Biden,” said William Joyner, a 54-year-old Democrat. “We have high gas prices. Everything is so expensive right now.”
He added, “Biden made promises to Black people he hasn’t kept yet.”
Tony McCright, 68, who also voted for Mr. McAuliffe, said there was a sense among Black voters that they were voting for Democrats only out of necessity.
“Republicans are happy to come together to do the wrong thing,” Mr. McCright said, “but Democrats never come together to do the right thing.”
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