Clinton’s support among Latinos, which make up 9 percent of the state’s population and account for about 5 percent of the state’s voters, could make the difference. Across the country, the Democratic nominee has held a commanding lead against Trump among Latino voters. An NBC / Wall Street Journal poll from October found her holding a 50-point advantage over Trump. That may not come as a surprise: Throughout the election, the Republican nominee’s inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants has alienated Latinos.
But in a divisive election, with a Republican candidate that’s largely unpopular among Latinos, is Clinton’s support genuine? In Virginia, it would seem to go both ways, with some Latino voters backing her enthusiastically and others seeing her as the lesser of two evils.
CASA In Action has rolled out efforts over the last few months to reach Latino voters in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and measure their support for Clinton, whom they’ve endorsed. “We’re targeting infrequent voters, first-time voters,” said Luis Aguilar, advocacy and election specialist for CASA In Action. “You have to have longer conversations with them.” Since August, the group has been canvassing several days a week.
Jennifer Romero and Anika Rahman are among the paid canvassers. I rode around Sterling, Virginia with the two on a sunny Sunday morning this month. It was an average day for Romero, 19, and Rahman, 23. They’ve been knocking on doors around northern Virginia for weeks.
Romero is soft spoken—except for when she’s distinguishing between Democrat LuAnn Bennett, who’s been endorsed by CASA In Action, from her opponent, Republican Representative Barbara Comstock. Canvassing takes on an unique meaning for Romero, who is a DACA member and can’t vote. She came to the United States when she was 4 years old and has high aspirations, principally becoming an FBI agent. But above all, Romero is unwavering in her determination to encourage voters to turn out on November 8. Rahman shares her motivation since she, too, is unable to cast a ballot as a legal resident. “I’m not allowed to vote, but I’m allowed to have an opinion,” she told me.
While their efforts are not solely focused on Latinos, in Sterling Latinos account for 35 percent of the population. Romero and Rahman moved from house-to-house, up and down streets, on Sunday, handing out flyers and diligently taking notes on their iPads as they went.
“If they take a flyer, it’s a good indication they’re voting for Clinton,” Rahman said. That was the case with 28-year-old Sterling resident Fredy Arearblo, who called Clinton “the best” candidate. “(Hillary Clinton) tiene más cosas que nos conviene a los Hispanos,” Arearblo said. Translated to: “Hillary Clinton has more things that help Hispanics.”
Aguilar noted that Trump’s remarks about Latinos this election cycle has made the choice between candidates clearer. “It’s almost common sense,” he told me. In Virginia, CASA In Action has been canvassing in Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County. “We’ve seen more support (for Clinton) in Loudoun,” Aguilar said. Latinos make up nearly 14 percent of the population in Loudoun County, compared to 22 percent in Prince William County and 16 percent in Fairfax.