Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on Tuesday that Democratic candidates have suffered this election cycle because they haven't been able to properly address questions of race.

"I just think we've had some good candidates whose campaigns have suffered because they have not had good advisors on questions like this," he said on MSNBC.

He had been asked whether Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes alienated African-American voters by refusing to say whether she voted for President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaMegyn Kelly: Trump and First Amendment 'not a beautiful match' It’ll take at least two years to repeal and replace ObamaCare Brown-Mandel Ohio Senate race will be brutal referendum on Trumpism MORE in 2012.

"Well, certainly, I do agree with that. The fact of the matter is, I don't think her numbers started to plummet until after she botched that question so significantly," he said.

Host Joe Scarborough then pushed back on Clyburn's point, arguing that Democrats have been able to keep races competitive, even in states with histories of racial oppression.

"I didn't say that they would not win because of race. What I did say, Joe, was a lot of the campaigns have suffered because they have not been able to answer some questions about the racial matters sufficiently in order to nuance these things," Clyburn replied. He added that racial questions have come up in races outside of the Deep South and other states with difficult racial histories.

Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, said Monday that Republicans have made the midterm elections a referendum on Obama, and he blamed poor Democratic messaging on the president's policies.