But amid a toxic political environment, activists going door-to-door say they have seen African-American interest in voting spike since the summer, when low engagement alarmed Democratic pollsters hoping to elect Northam over Republican Ed Gillespie. Turnout already shot upward in heavily black areas during the Democratic primary, compared with the last contested primary in 2009, and Northam won big in those regions in June. Since then, black political groups have run a steady stream of radio and digital ads invoking Charlottesville and inequality in the criminal justice system, including NFL players’ protests of the issue. And they are talking with voters one-on-one in Norfolk and other African-American population centers to make a personal case about voting this year.
“They feel that it’s not politics as usual,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, which has been working with the Northam campaign to turn out African-American voters in Hampton Roads. “They know that something else is going on here.”
When BlackPAC first polled voters of color in the state in August, what it found concerned it. The percentage who said they were extremely likely to vote was in the high 60s, and Northam was trailing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 performance among voters of color.
In addition to Obama and BlackPAC, the Latino Victory Fund also targeted black voters:
In the last week of Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Republicans howled with outrage over an attack ad against gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie that featured a white man in a pickup truck bearing a Gillespie bumper sticker and a Confederate flag menacing minority children.
After the election
Has black turnout not recieved "considerable attention" as Bouie says? The Washington Post ran their standard election data piece about a week after the election, focusing on turnout:
A racial divide
A key component of the surge for Democrats was the voters in minority neighborhoods, where Northam won three-quarters of the votes overall and more than 80 percent in African-American neighborhoods. Margins grew by 10 points in Hispanic neighborhoods.
In predominantly white neighborhoods, the large political divide remained about the same, with Democrats and Republicans dividing up the votes that went to third-party candidates back in 2013.
Back to Bouie:
Groups like BlackPAC did this, running ads that directly confronted racist messaging in the state. The candidate himself was more muddled. Northam took a stand against the state’s Confederate monuments but also condemned sanctuary cities and allowed a Democratic-affiliated group to print campaign mailers that omitted lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax, who is black. Still, the collective Democratic effort largely recognized that voters were frightened by developments in Virginia and angered by the rhetoric coming from the Republican campaign, which played to white racial fears. Those efforts were helped by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, whose work to end felon disenfranchisement expanded the overall pool of black voters.
The unspoken question that looms over all of this is: Does Jamelle Bouie count black Democrats as Democrats? If BlackPAC (which originated as a Pro-Hillary group) pays for pollsters and runs adds, does that mean that Democrats paid pollsters and ran adds? Or does the word "Democrats" only refer to Northam and McAuliffe?