“The vast majority of Black voters disagree with her on abortion, on school choice, on guns,” Ms. McClellan said. “Those aren’t necessarily the issues driving Black voters anyway. It’s the economy, it’s health care, it’s broader access to education.”

The evidence that this year’s elections scrambled the fundamentals of race and partisanship is mixed at most. If anything, some Republicans worried that Ms. Sears’s hard-right politics might jeopardize the campaign strategy of appealing to more moderate voters. This risk was largely mitigated, said John Fredericks, a conservative radio host, by the fact that Ms. Sears’s general election campaign, which he called “a train wreck from start to finish,” never raised enough money to really broadcast her politics.

In any case, the attention was overwhelmingly directed to the top of the ticket.

“The election this year was all about the gubernatorial candidates,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington. There were few big surprises in the exit polls, several political experts said, and Ms. Sears won her race by a margin that would have been expected of just about any Republican this year.

But there were some warning signs for Democrats, outlined in a postelection survey by the Democratic Governors Association. While Black Virginians overwhelmingly voted for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor, the analysis found a drop in Democratic support among Black men, compared with the 2020 presidential election. There was notable erosion in Democratic support among Asian and Latino voters as well.

“We don’t need to be tied or beholden to one particular party,” said Wes Bellamy, a Black political activist and a former vice mayor of Charlottesville. He will be watching Ms. Sears closely, he said.

Lieutenant governors in Virginia are fairly limited in their responsibilities, but they have a public profile — and they almost always run for governor. If Ms. Sears advocates for policies that improve the day-to-day lives of Black people and, more crucially, if she can persuade her Republican colleagues to go along, Mr. Bellamy said, “I think she’s gold.”

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