7 Reasons Gavin Newsom Might Avoid California’s Recall Vote | Election
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has been fighting a recall effort for months. The end of voting this week will tell whether he survives – and increasingly, it looks like he will.
Newsom, who was first elected by a 24-point margin in 2018, was forced into a recall election just a year and a half before the regularly scheduled 2022 election thanks to California’s unusual recall provision.
The recall law establishes a recall vote if opponents can collect enough valid signatures to equal 12% of those who voted in the most recent election for office. To Newsom’s recollection, this meant collecting about 1.5 million signatures. Supporters of the recall managed to collect more than enough signatures, thanks to a court ruling that extended the signature-gathering for 120 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Questions on the ballot are unusual. The first asks whether the governor should be recalled. If the question receives a majority and is recalled, the governor is out. At that point, another question comes into play: Who should replace him?
The ballot lists 46 candidates, most of whom are Republicans. (More on that later.) With so many candidates, voting can end up with a huge split, meaning the winner on the second question has far fewer votes than the number that would support retaining Newsom’s rule. can be obtained.
Election results will begin to be released after voting ends on September 14, although it may take a few days to feel certain about the results given the lag in receiving ballots after the deadline.
The recall of a California governor is as recently as 18 years ago. In 2003, voters remembered Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger on the second question. Schwarzenegger won election to a full term in 2006.
But analysts say it is wrong to assume that history will repeat itself in 2021 for some reason.
First, California is now a much more democratic state than it was in 2003, which Newsom should have aided. In the most recent presidential election before the 2003 recall, California voters supported Democratic candidate Al Gore by a margin of less than 12 points. In 2020, the state endorsed Joe Biden by more than 29 points.
Second, Newsom — despite facing many challenges in the office, including the coronavirus, homelessness, weather-fueled disasters, and the self-inflicted wound of attending a fancy, immaculate dinner with lobbyists during the pandemic — is somewhere in between. Also not as unpopular as Davis was. the eve of his remembrance. Newsom’s approval rating was in his 50s, while Davis was in his 20s.
After a period in August when polls showed the race to be almost the flip of a coin, margins have widened in recent weeks. Within days of the September 14 deadline for postmarked ballots, the FiveThirtyEight voting average was found to be “no” at around 56% and “yes” when recalled at less than 42%.
“The governor and his team have every reason to be optimistic,” says Sonoma State University political scientist David McCuan.
Democrats are also pleased with what the trend of the ballots received is showing.
As of September 9, the breakdown in party registrations for ballots received was 53% Democratic, 25% Republican and 23% without major-party affiliation, according to a table by Ryan Matsumoto of the nonpartisan website Inside Elections. That’s slightly better than the ballots returned for Republicans at a similar point in the 2020 election cycle, but Republicans are unlikely to be able to oust Newsom unless Democratic voters blamed for being pro-recall. Do not give in large numbers.
While Republicans are expected to pull out uneventfully on the last day of voting – as they did in most states in 2020 due to criticism of mail voting by then-President Donald Trump – Newsom won enough early votes to win. bank may have done.
So how did Newsom come to the brink of beating the recall? Here are half a dozen reasons.
In today’s hyper-partisan political environment, parties to either party rarely consider voting for someone from the opposite party. And in California, there are almost twice as many registered Democrats than there are registered Republicans. Even independents – who come close to outnumbering Republicans – lean toward Democrats politely.
There has been much talk about California Republicans being excited to vote in the recall election, and Democrats being blamed, “the math doesn’t give a damn about ‘Republican enthusiasm’ when Republicans are more than a quarter of the electorate. less,” says California Democratic strategist Gary South.
In a large state like California — and covering many expensive media markets — having money helps, and Newsom has benefited from lax rules that govern what one can do to back an election. All told, Newsom and affiliated groups raised $81.6 million through September 9, according to the Los Angeles Times, while a collective $43.8 million supported the recall and all replacement candidates.
Newsom’s position has been to ask Californians not to vote on the recall, leaving the replacement question blank. While this may sound like a risky strategy, it helped cement strong party unity in the Democratic side, which in turn has been a sign of strength for the governor. Only one Democrat, YouTube personality Kevin Pfarth, has caught everyone’s attention as the replacement candidate; None of the most credible Democratic officeholders announced a run.
Establishing this degree of unity was a huge increase in Newsom’s opportunities, says Raphael Sonnenshine, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University-Los Angeles. “When incumbents lose, it usually starts with a fracture in their own party,” he says.
California became an overwhelmingly vote-by-mail state starting with the pandemic in 2020. Being able to send in a ballot (or drop one at the local drop box or at a nearby election office) lowers the logistical bar for Democrats who might otherwise be too weak about Newsom to contest the election in person. . Receiving a ballot in the mail also serves as official notice to voters who are not politically involved that an unscheduled, off-year election is underway.
The Rise of Larry the Elder
The replacement field includes Republicans such as 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulkner, state legislature Kevin Kelly and reality television personality Caitlyn Jenner. But only one replacement candidate caught fire near the deadline: talk radio host Larry Elder.
Analysts say the emergence of Elder turned the tide in the recall election, enabling Newsom to turn the competition into a more traditional two-candidate race. Elder became a valuable foil for Newsom, a candidate whose views on hot-button issues – offered publicly for many years – are at odds with many residents of this typically blue state. (Elder was also accused by a former fiancé of pulling a gun loaded onto her during an argument.)
Lou Cannon, a veteran political journalist in California, says, “It’s the best thing that’s happened to Newsom.” “They’ve tried to scare voters with the idea of Elder Governorship, and it seems to be working.”
Harvey Englander, a longtime lobbyist and public affairs expert, says, “Comparing ourselves to what life might be like under a Republican governor became an alternative form, and it encouraged Democrats and independents, especially women, to vote. inspired to.” Los Angeles.
Attempts to recall Newsom were stymied by the revelation that he had attended an unmissable dinner at the Razzie French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, contrary to the state’s own coronavirus policies. Ultimately, though, the pandemic may help Newsom, drawing contrast he is drawing with Republican governors of other states, which have loosened public health restrictions and seen infections and hospitalizations skyrocket from the delta variant. On the eve of the election, California ranked among the states with the lowest per capita coronavirus cases in the country.
“There is no more consequential decision for the health and safety of the people of the state of California than not to vote on this Republican-backed recall,” Newsom said at an event in Oakland.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to block a controversial Texas abortion law has activated abortion-rights supporters, who are concerned that Justices may soon overturn Roe v. Wade. Newsom has tried to use the issue as well, mentioning it several times in the home stretch of the recall campaign.
If there’s a cloud on the horizon for Newsom in the days leading up to the campaign’s conclusion, it’s that the degree of turnout among Latinos – who are numerically a major group for Democrats – is uncertain.
Since there is nothing other than a recall on the ballot, it is up to Newsom to persuade Latinos to vote.
“The voters they’re less likely to reach are Latinos—even in presidential elections, but especially in races like this,” says Mindy Romero, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Inclusive Democracy. Without other offices and measures on the ballot paper, volunteers from other contests can’t afford to lose votes.
In the event that Newsom is recalled and a Republican replacement vote wins, the new governor will not have an easy time in office. Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the legislature. In addition, Newsom will remain governor until the election is certified, giving him several weeks to sign bills passed by the legislature, even if he is recalled, says Marcia Godwin, a professor of public administration at the University of La Verne.
If, however, Newsom survives the recall, his own political future and the key factor for Democrats in the state, his victory margin will be. A difference above 14 points would be a “concrete landslide,” McCuan says, and an even stronger victory could bolster Newsom’s political position on the national stage. Winning less than 10 points, in contrast, “would be a hollow, moral victory,” McCuan says.
Meanwhile, McCuan says, some Democrats wouldn’t mind seeing Newsom beat Recall, but do so overwhelmingly.
“Personally, many Democrats want to punch him in the nose but don’t want to see him lose,” he says. “They want to see a dose of humility from the recall vote and a change in the way the Newsom team operates and the very nature.”
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