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Latino Voters Discuss Their Hopes And Fears Ahead Of Election Day


Politicians are crisscrossing their states to meet with voters. And NPR reporters are too. They've fanned across the country to hear about people's hopes and fears for tomorrow's election. NPR's Don Gonyea spent some time with Latino voters in North Carolina and has this report.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Let's start at a hair salon a few miles from downtown Charlotte.


GONYEA: Forty-two-year-old Zhenia Martinez helps run this shop with her mother. I ask her about the election.

You've been paying attention.

ZHENIA MARTINEZ: Yes (laughter).

GONYEA: That bit of nervous laughter indicates that her answer is an understatement. Martinez came to the U.S. as a child when her family emigrated from Mexico. A citizen since 2005, she says she's troubled by how President Trump has made immigration the big issue in the campaign. She calls his language frightening.

MARTINEZ: It's scary because it's getting to the point where we don't know who he's coming after next.

GONYEA: Her fear is that Republicans hold on to the Senate and the House and that Trump will be emboldened further. Her best hope? That Democrats at least win the House. And then she says it's a matter of hanging on until they get to vote against Trump himself in 2020.

MARTINEZ: And kind of, you know, pull up your boots until we can make it to the next election.

GONYEA: Now some other voices from Latino voters in Charlotte. Here's 39-year-old Leo Scarpati, who sometimes votes for Republicans but says he did not vote for Trump.

LEO SCARPATI: The president keeps insinuating that, you know, if you vote Democrat, that this is going to become a banana republic, that this is going to become the next Venezuela. That makes no sense whatsoever.

GONYEA: His hope after the election?

SCARPATI: Somehow they find a way to work together. It's a plea to Washington to work together.

GONYEA: Out in the suburbs, 64-year-old Rudy Esquivel is a Cuban-American who came to the U.S. at age 5. He's a Republican who says he proudly voted Trump. He says he does expect Democrats to win control of the U.S. House. He says he's not afraid of that.

RUDY ESQUIVEL: Look, I've already won. The reason I've already won is Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

GONYEA: Esquivel says, with two conservative Supreme Court justices already in place, if tomorrow's vote means Democratic gains and then stalemate in Washington, he can live with that. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.