Republicans made a multi-million dollar push to engage black voters this cycle, opening up engagement offices in several states and hiring staffers for media and on-the ground-outreach.
The message, echoed by people like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), was that the GOP would compete for the black vote in hopes of building a base of support that currently doesn't really exist.
So, did that effort pay off? Well, yes -- maybe a little.
Looking at exit polls, in some small measures, Republicans moved the ball forward.
A few numbers:
- In 2012, 93 percent of blacks cast ballots for President Obama, with 6 percent voting for Romney. In the 2010 midterm, the split was 91-9.
- In 2014, Republicans saw a very slight bump nationally among African-American voters, who were 12 percent of the electorate. Ten percent of African Americans voted Republican, with 89 percent voting Democratic.
- The 89-10 split on African Americans is the best for the GOP since 2006, when it was 89-11.
- The GOP hasn't received more than 11 percent of the black vote since 1996.
Republicans have said they want to get into the double digits with black voters, and it appears that in 2014 they reached that goal.
But even with that good news for the GOP, their showing is pretty much in line with history, and there is some mixed news at the state level.
Take North Carolina, where GOP aides reached out to black newspapers and churches to try and make inroads. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who beat Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), got just 3 percent of the black vote. In 2012, Romney got 4 percent in North Carolina.
Hagan was buoyed by the Moral Mondays efforts, which were led by the state NAACP and brought together several progressive groups to protest actions of the state legislature, where Tillis happens to serve as state House speaker.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) hit double digits, earning 12 percent of the black vote -- an 8-point bump from Romney and from Scott's showing in 2010. On the Sunday before Election Day, Scott "secretly visited a black church" for Souls to the Polls.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has apparently eked out a victory in Virginia, snagging 90 percent of the black vote to Ed Gillespie's (R) 9 percent. Gillespie did a hair better than Romney, who managed 6 percent of the black vote.
Republicans like former RNC chairman Michael Steele argue that black voters were disappointed by the Democratic agenda and were open to voting Republican. Paul has made the same argument, suggesting that in 2016 a Republican candidate (maybe someone like a certain senator from Kentucky?) could get 30 percent of the black vote. But in this cycle, it's hard to find a Republican candidate who got even half that amount.
One of the more interesting cases, though, is Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R), who beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) in one of Election Day's biggest surprises. Brown would have become that state's first black governor, but anecdotal evidence suggests that black voters weren't engaged in the race, even as state Democrats invoked Ferguson and Freedom Summer in mailers.
Hogan did something much smarter. He released an ad featuring a black woman talking about the high price of living in Maryland, complaining about a "tax on rain."
We don't know what share of the black vote Hogan got, since there was no exit poll in Maryland. But this ad is much better than some of the efforts of other conservatives, some who have tended to race bait, and could provide a helpful template for Republicans looking to make bigger strides with black voters.
After all, Hogan won.
UPDATE: Orlando Watson over at the RNC points out that Ohio Governor, John Kasich got 26 percent of the black vote (33 percent of black men and 20 percent of black women) according to CNN exit polls. He also snagged an endorsement from the Cleveland Call and Post, the oldest and largest black newspaper in the state. RNC Chair Reince Priebus was also in Ohio for the launch of a College Republican chapter at Central State University, an historically black college.