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Opinion Black people, save the republic by saving Virginia — again

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe speaks at a campaign event in Norfolk on Oct. 29. (Carlos Bernate/Bloomberg News)
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For a few weeks now, a factoid about the forthcoming vote in the Virginia governor’s race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin has seemed to spell certain doom for McAuliffe.

“As others have pointed out, in 10 out of the last 11 gubernatorial elections in Virginia,” wrote The Post’s David Byler, “the party that won the presidency lost Virginia’s governorship a year later.” And who was that one exception? McAuliffe, who won election in 2013. But what is left out of the analysis is who drove McAuliffe to victory: Black voters. Black women, in particular.

“Black voters have put white Democrats over the top in Virginia elections before,” wrote NPR’s Domenico Montanaro last week. “Consider that in 2013, McAuliffe lost the white vote by 20 points, according to exit polling. But he won more than 90% of Black voters. They made up 20% of the electorate and it was enough to help McAuliffe to a 3-point victory.”

Montanaro made that same point in a post-mortem on the race that he wrote in 2013 when he was with NBC News. But using his analysis of the gender gap in the exit polls, I went the extra step of declaring in a column that Black women put McAuliffe in the governor’s mansion then. Not only did African American Virginians vote at the level they did in President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, Black women gave McAuliffe 91 percent of their votes. He lost White women by 16 percentage points.

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You know who else agreed with my assessment? McAuliffe.

I ran into him at a D.C. restaurant not long after writing that column in April 2014. “And guess who put you in the governor’s mansion,” I asked him, not expecting an answer. Before I could say it, McAuliffe thundered, “Black women!”

Black women have been saving this republic since its founding. That was especially so during the Trump era when their turnout helped elect Democrats in unlikely places such as Alabama and Georgia. Their votes put Joe Biden in the White House. And Black turnout will be key if McAuliffe is to win in Virginia. They just have to show up.

There is a lot of worry about that among Democrats chiefly because of polls that show a too-close-for-comfort contest in a state Biden won by 10 percentage points last year. In the past week, Youngkin was able to close the gap by tossing copies of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Beloved” on the crackling embers of white grievance to fire up his conservative base.

Attacks on education, reproductive health and voting rights are just three of the worrisome actions taken by Republican-led states (cough, Texas) in the past year. Virginia must not become part of this regressive mix. During an interview on my MSNBC “Sunday Show” earlier this month, I asked Texas state Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D) why so many horrible policies were coming out of the Lone Star State. Crockett was among the Texas Democrats who came to Washington this summer rather than provide the quorum needed for a special session to pass voter suppression bills. Their effort eventually failed. Before she answered, Crockett had a message for voters in the Old Dominion.

“Virginia, y’all, need to go vote for Terry [McAuliffe]. If y’all don’t want to turn into Texas, that is what y’all absolutely need to do,” she said. “We absolutely do not need another [Tex. Gov.] Greg Abbott wannabe in these United States of America.”

So, Black people, Black women especially, do what you’ve always done. Save the republic by saving Virginia — again.

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