In the final days before the election on Tuesday, many Republicans say they still have no idea what Mr. Youngkin really believes. But they have cheered him on regardless, after he took a hard-right turn and began promoting the causes that are animating conservatives and supporters of the former president, from the debate over teaching the impact of racism to transgender rights in schools.
To Mr. Youngkin’s critics, his culture warrior persona is cynical and disingenuous — just the kind of transactional decision that a career investment manager with a fortune estimated at close to $400 million would make to win.
But to his Republican supporters, whether or not it’s an act isn’t really the point.
As long as Mr. Youngkin is saying what they want to hear and signaling what they understand he cannot say out loud — running on the issue of “election integrity,” for instance, rather than wholeheartedly accepting Mr. Trump’s lies about election fraud in 2020 — many conservatives see his campaign as providing a template for how to delicately embrace Trumpism in blue states.