GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin has an urgent message for Republicans ahead of Tuesday’s crucial legislative elections in Virginia, a closely watched 2024 bellwether.
“When Republicans vote, Republicans win. When we turn out, we win,” Youngkin said as he spoke to a crowd of veterans at VFW Post 4809 in Norfolk, Virginia. “We’ve got to get the vote out.”
As he aims to hold the GOP’s narrow majority in the state House and recapture control of the state Senate, where Democrats currently hold a fragile majority, Youngkin has been on a mission to encourage Republicans to turn out in big numbers in the state’s final days of early voting ahead of Election Day.
“We’ve got work to do. And the work to do right now is to hold the House and flip the Senate. Hold the House and flip the Senate,” Youngkin stressed on Thursday as he headlined a rally in support of two GOP legislative candidates. Total Republican control of the state government in Richmond would allow the governor to push through a conservative agenda.
Asked if his message is resonating, Youngkin highlighted in a Fox Digital interview that “there’s a lot of people who’ve voted early. And across the state, we’ve seen an uptick in early voting and absentee ballot and particularly in our battleground districts, we’ve seen a really good movement.”
Youngkin’s mission is shared by the Republican National Committee (RNC), and national party figures are keeping a close eye on the rising GOP star’s efforts. Earlier this year, the RNC launched a nationwide “Bank Your Vote” campaign to encourage GOP voters to take part in early in-person voting and absentee balloting in order to close a gap with Democrats.
“To beat Joe Biden and the Democrats in 2024, we must ensure that Republicans bank as many pre-Election Day votes as possible,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News Digital in June as the national party committee launched the program. The RNC is working with state parties across the country to implement the push.
“Banking votes early needs to be the focus of every single Republican campaign in the country, and the Republican National Committee will lead the charge,” McDaniel said.
It’s a tall task, in the wake of three years of former President Donald Trump’s repeated disparaging claims about early and absentee voting being rampant with fraud, as part of his unproven charges that his 2020 election loss was due to a massive rigged election.
Since launching his 2024 presidential campaign in November 2022, Trump has appeared to slowly embrace efforts to encourage Republicans to vote early in person or cast an early absentee ballot. And he appeared in an RNC ad over the summer that encouraged Republicans to vote early.
But the former president also continues to bash early voting and absentee balloting.
During a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity in August, Trump said he would encourage Republicans to vote early, but he also claimed people make “phony ballots” and charged “a lot of bad things happen to those ballots.”
In the 2018 midterms, Democrats accounted for 41% of early votes in the 24 states that provide partisan data, a six-point advantage over Republicans’ 35.1%, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. That gap widened to nearly 12 points in the 2022 cycle.
Banking early votes eliminates the risk of voters who might skip a trip to the polls on Election Day due to inclement weather or other reasons. And it allows campaigns to more efficiently target supporters who’ve yet to cast a ballot by Election Day.
In Virginia, both major political parties have raised and spent big bucks on the Commonwealth’s elections.
Democrats have infused millions into Virginia’s elections, with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee pushing turnout through grassroots outreach, direct mail, robocalls and digital and TV ads.
“Democrats in the Virginia legislature are the last line of defense to protect Virginian’s fundamental freedoms like access to an abortion,” DLCC communications director Abhi Rahman told Fox News. “We need all hands on deck now. If we vote, we will win.”
And former President Barack Obama is putting his star power to use in urging Democrats to head to the polls.
A pair of robocalls recorded by Obama are being sent to over 100,000 households in roughly 20 key legislative districts in Virginia through Tuesday’s election.
Youngkin, mostly through his Spirit of Virginia PAC, hauled in a record $22.5 million, with much of the funds paying for mailers, digital spots and TV ads to encourage Republicans to head to the polls.
“I’m asking for your vote. Elect a Republican team to back me up and I promise, we’ll deliver,” Youngkin pledged in his closing TV commercial ahead of Election Day.
The governor told Fox News, “We get these folks off the sidelines, and we win. I’ve been really pleased with the turnout so far, people are voting and that’s the most important thing.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.