Glenn Youngkin woos Hispanic voters with an anti-socialism message

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 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 it’s Mr. Youngkin’s same warnings about Mr. McAuliffe that appeal to the Republican Party 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 a recent Emerson College/Nexstar poll, the candidates also split the Hispanic vote.

Mr. McAuliffe edged out Mr. Youngkin by 1 percentage point with Hispanic voters, 48% to 47%.

Yesli Vega, a former police officer and chairwoman of Latinos for Youngkin, said some Democrats’ rhetoric about socialism and defunding the police 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 Republicans’ success has been attributed to the Democratic Party’s socialist leanings. The messaging point helped flip several Democratic-held House seats in 2020.

President Trump also made gains with Hispanic voters in key states such as Florida and Arizona last year despite losing the election as a whole. Nationally, there was as much as an 8-percentage-point swing among Hispanic voters toward Mr. Trump, analysts say.

Youngkin campaign spokesman Christian Martinez said the outreach has been particularly successful with Hispanic voters 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 other voters — economic opportunity instead of 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. The candidate went out for meet-and-greets, roundtables and other events with the Hispanic community and business leaders across Virginia.

Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign has held “Todos con Terry” events and used 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 from 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 percentage points.

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

State Delegate Jason Miyares, the Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general, said 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, 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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