No, no link. Not for Joan Walsh, and double not for Joan Walsh at Salon.
There are two big lessons from Virginia. Abortion matters. Twenty percent of voters said it was their top issue, and they broke overwhelmingly for McAuliffe. And African-American voters continue to be the most reliable pillar of the Democratic base. Black voter turnout was identical to 2012, chastening people who suggest the Democrats won’t do as well without Obama’s name on the ballot. Where McAuliffe lost white voters 56-36 to Cuccinelli, he won nine of 10 black voters.
So yes, guess who once again turned out for the Democrat in the race and provided the margin of victory, despite overwhelming attempts to stop the black vote, and where only 37% of all Virginia voters turned out? Keep in mind 80% of Virginia voters turned out in 2012, but black turnout was virtually the same. The rest of Virginia stayed home. Think about that when you hear reasons why Cuccinelli lost. He lost because black voters showed up in the same numbers they did in 2012, in an off, off-year election.
The Virginia results also show why Republicans are working overtime to suppress black voters. Anyone who cares about 2014 and 2016 (are you listening, Hillary Clinton?) should be making voting rights and turnout efforts their No. 1 issue, starting today. Virginia shows that it’s going to be tough, though not impossible, for Democrats to make 2014 the kind of “wave” election that could let them take back the House of Representatives, as they did in 2006. But it also shows that the so-called Obama coalition can survive without anyone by that name on the ballot.
Timepiece, otherwise frozen and useless, happens to have correct chronometic reading in this particular instance. I note the occurrence for posterity and move on. Jamelle Bouie at the Daily Beast spells it out:
Where the change from 2009 was most significant was among black voters. Then, African Americans were 16 percent were of the electorate, a significant drop from the 2008 election. This year, blacks were 20 percent of all voters, which means their turnout was exactly where it was in 2012. Put another way, for the second year in a row, African Americans turned out at a rate above their percentage of the population, and supported the Democrat by a 9-to–1 margin.
This is huge. For McAuliffe, what it meant is that—for almost every black voter who went to the polls—he could count on a vote, giving him crucial support in a tight race. To wit, more than 37 percent of his vote total came from African Americans. It’s not hard to see what the race would have looked like with 2009 numbers; a four percent drop in black turnout would have slashed roughly 80,000 votes from McAuliffe’s total, turning Ken Cuccinelli’s narrow loss into a slim victory.
Fin. Exeunt, stage left.