McAuliffe mailer deceives Virginia voters in touting Trump's endorsement of Youngkin

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The Virginia Democratic Party is stuffing voters’ mailboxes with campaign literature that touts former President Donald Trump‘s endorsement of GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin.

Some Virginia voters feel deceived by the mailers, which at first glance appear to come from Republicans.

“I read the whole thing and thought to myself, ‘Why is this coming to my wife since she‘s a Democratic voter? Why is a Trump operation sending it to her?’ Then I looked closely, and could barely make out that it was sent by Democrats,” said Fairfax County resident Larry Gold, 83.

The front side of the mailer shows Mr. Youngkin next to a quote by Mr. Trump saying the candidate has his “complete and total endorsement.”

The backside of the mailer features a photo of Mr. Trump next to Mr. Youngkin with quotes from the nominee accepting the former president’s endorsement.

The mailer reads in small print that it was paid for by the state Democratic Party and authorized by Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

“This obviously was an attempt not to identify the mailer,” said Mr. Gold, who said he is an independent voter.

Neither the Youngkin campaign nor the Virginia Democratic Party immediately responded to a request for comment for this story.

The mailer builds upon Mr. McAuliffe’s strategy to make the governor’s race a referendum on Mr. Trump. He has centered his campaign on tying Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump in an attempt to rally the Democratic base and boost turnout in the election Tuesday.

Mr. Trump, who endorsed Mr. Youngkin, lost Virginia in the 2020 election by a 10-point margin.

Republican strategist Doug Heye said the tactic of tying Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump becomes increasingly risky as polls tighten.

“Instead of talking about growing the economy, fixing our schools and fighting crime, Virginia Democrats’ message has been ‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ coming even from Biden,” Mr. Heye said. “They’re betting that their voter registration advantage is enough to make that work. As the polls have tightened, that’s a riskier and risker bet.”

Mr. Youngkin and Mr. McAuliffe are in a dead heat in polls with just four days left until Election Day.

Mr. Trump will be a factor. He will dial in for a virtual rally for Mr. Youngkin on Monday.

Voters are split on how Mr. Trump‘s presence in the race shapes their opinions of both candidates.

Vicky Thornhill, 65, who is a librarian in Loudoun County, said national implications haven’t fazed her.

“I don’t think it connects [with voters] at all because Trump isn’t running,” Ms. Thornhill said.

Others are energized by the anti-Trump message.

Grace Ashi, 30 of Arlington, said just the fact that Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Youngkin was enough to turn her away from the Republican.

“I cannot support someone like that,” said Ms. Ashi, who attended a McAuliffe rally with President Biden this week. “With the COVID pandemic and everything happening, I can’t support a Trump-endorsed candidate. It would just bring us backward.”

The latest poll from Emerson College/Nexstar media has Mr. Youngkin and Mr. McAuliffe at 48% each.

The poll, conducted Oct. 22-23, surveyed 875 likely Virginia voters and carried an error margin of +/-3.2%.

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