Youngkin woos Hispanic voters with an anti-socialism message

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Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin is making inroads with Virginia’s Hispanic voters by stoking an anti-socialism message, capturing nearly half of the Hispanic vote in a recent poll.

Overall, he’s in a dead heat against Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final days of the race and hoping Hispanic voters will make the difference in Tuesday’s election.

Mr. Youngkin’s message, that his opponent is a big-government liberal, is resonating with Hispanic voters.

“I am not a fan of big government because I know the money has to come from somewhere and the money is taxes,” said small business owner Hugo Hernandez, 53, who was born in El Salvador but now lives in Dale City in Prince William County.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s Mr. Youngkin’s same warnings about Mr. McAuliffe that appeal to the GOP base.

“He’s embraced the far left of his party, including [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s] and [Sen. Bernard] Sanders’ socialist government-run, single-payer health care scheme … make no mistake, McAuliffe is an extremist,” Mr. Youngkin said recently in a virtual speech to the Virginia Tea Party’s “Backlash to Socialism” summit.

With the race tied at 48% in the recent Emerson College/Nexstar poll, the candidates also split the Hispanic vote.

Mr. McAuliffe edged out Mr. Youngkin by one percentage point with Hispanic voters, 48% to 47%.

Yesli Vega, a former police officer and chairwoman of Latinos for Youngkin, said rhetoric about socialism and defunding the police by some Democrats on the national stage has trickled down to the local level.

“I definitely think things like Defund the Police have backfired on them,” Ms. Vega said.

In recent election cycles, Republicans have made gains with Hispanic voters who traditionally back Democrats by a wide margin. Part of the GOP success has been attributed to highlighting the Democratic Party’s socialist leanings, a messaging point that helped flip several Democratic-held House seats in 2020.

Former President Donald Trump also made gains with Hispanic voters in key states such as Florida and Arizona, despite losing the election as a whole. Nationally, there was as much as an eight percentage-point swing among Hispanic voters toward Mr. Trump in 2020, according to analysts.

Youngkin campaign spokesman Christian Martinez said the outreach has been particularly successful with Hispanic voters those whose families have ties to countries in South America and Central America that have authoritarian regimes.

He said Mr. Youngkin is offering Hispanic voters — and all voters — economic opportunity as opposed to the other side’s big-government solutions.

“Glenn is receiving strong support across various Latino and Hispanic communities because his Day One plan will make Virginia the best state to live, work, and raise a family, making it easier for Latinos and Hispanics to achieve the American Dream,” Mr. Martinez said in a statement.

Mr. McAuliffe has worked to distance himself from the far-left of his party. He also has cast Mr. Youngkin as a right-wing extremist and protege of Mr. Trump.

Both campaigns have stepped up their outreach to Hispanics.

The Youngkin campaign launched Latinos for Youngkin in June, getting the candidate out for meet and-greets, roundtables and other events with the Hispanic community and business leaders across Virginia.

Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign has been holding “Todos con Terry” events and using Spanish-language TV, radio and newspaper ads.

The Democrat’s campaign also hired a political organizer dedicated to working with Hispanic communities.

A poll conducted by the conservative advocacy group Freedom Works in connection with the Bullfinch Group found that education, crime and safety, and the economy ranked as the top issues for Hispanic voters.

The poll, which surveyed 804 Hispanic and Latino voters between Aug. 17-24, also found that nearly 8 in 10 respondents favored a free market economy over “the rise of socialism in America.”

The survey had an error margin of +/-3.46%.

Other GOP candidates in the state are using a similar playbook.

State Del. Jason Miyares, the GOP nominee for Virginia attorney general, said the Democrats’ socialist policies are driving Hispanic voters to Republicans.

“I think as the Democratic Party has gotten more woke and more far to the left, the more it has helped us,” said Mr. Miyares, who is the first Cuban American elected to the Virginia General Assembly.

On the campaign trail, he has been sharing the story of how his mother escaped communist Cuba when she was 19 years old.

Early voting is underway in Virginia. Election Day is Tuesday.

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