'81 voting reveals blacks as a key to GOP hopes in '82
Out of the complexity of the election returns there is one clear reading: The black vote today is almost solidly anti-Reagan and is becoming the chief political threat to Republican hopes next year and in the years to come.
The new reference point for this conclusion is the Virginia gubernatorial election, where the big outpouring of blacks who voted Democratic was apparently decisive in the victory of Democrat Charles Robb over Republican Marshall Coleman.
GOP national chairman -Richard Richards concedes that Republicans now are in political trouble with the blacks.
''Any Republican who runs in an area with a substantial black vote is in jeopardy of being defeated by that black vote,'' he told reporters over breakfast Nov. 4.
Mr. Richards says, ''We (the Republicans) are doing poorly with the blacks - about 8 percent is all. We need to do better. We want to do better.''
''The blacks are nervous about us, distrustful of us,'' he says, adding that the main problem is that blacks generally don't believe President Reagan's economic program is helping them in any way. ''We need to show them that it is, '' he adds.
Other aspects of Tuesday's elections include:
* Mr. Reagan had injected himself in the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races. He broke even, not giving Coleman enough help and, at least possibly, giving New Jersey GOP candidate Thomas Kean a boost. But there was no conclusive evidence as to whether Reagan's active campaigning in the 1982 contests (to which he is committed) will or will not be an asset to Republican candidates.
Mr. Richards foresees Republican gains next year, based in part on help from Reagan. But he says these GOP advances will not be made unless the economy improves and Reagan still is perceived as a popular President.
* In Washington, D.C., the voters by a 9-to-1 margin turned down a $1,200 -per-pupil education tax credit proposal that would have aided private and parochial schools. The argument that prevailed with the voters on this issue was that the tax credit would have damaged D.C.'s public schools, which are already having serious problems.
Did this vote any have implications for how voters would greet the tax-credit proposal that the President pushed during the campaign and is committed to put into law? Richards said ''No'' - ''D.C. voters on this issue, or any issue, are not like other voters in America.''
* The elections in Virginia and New Jersey did little to revive hopes of liberals. Governor-elect Robb sounded almost as conservative as Mr. Coleman. And Mr. Kean, locked in a close race with Rep. James J. Florio (D) of New Jersey and apparently the victor (although a recount is possible) expressed the conservative view.
* There was some evidence in the Virginia returns that the elderly were not supporting Reagan (and the Republicans) as much as they were in the last election.
''Reagan is doing less well with the elderly,'' concedes Richards. He says that the Democrats are making political hay out of what he terms the false charge that Reagan favors cutting back social security benefits.