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California recall election results: Gavin Newsom wins

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California recall election results: Gavin Newsom wins

Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP / Shutterstock

California Governor Gavin Newsom clinched a pivotal victory in a recall election late Tuesday night after a campaign that, at a point in time, looked like it could overthrow the first-term Democrat thanks to his self-inflicted wounds during the pandemic.

The election was called by the Associated Press less than an hour after the polls ended, which Newsom has shown so far with the support of more than 60 percent of voters who answered “no” when asked whether he should be removed from office. Late postal ballots will not be counted if they are not received by Election Day. Newsom won due to strong support from the state’s Democrats’ urban and coastal strongholds; the strong democratic advantage of the state; a generously funded anti-recall campaign; and a divided and not particularly convincing Republican field of would-be replacements. This contrasts sharply with 2003’s gubernatorial elections, where Gray Davis, the Democratic incumbent was fired and Arnold Schwarzenegger elected to replace him. The replacement race was won by Larry Elder, a conservative talk show host. It was not a significant one.

Although the election looked close in late August, recall was a frightening event for the dominant Democratic voters of the state. In fact, the most recent polls also showed “yes to recall” with a steadily increasing gap to “no” votes. Many factors explain the saving of Newsom. The “no campaign” slightly outperformed its competitors and took advantage the state’s partisan makeup by portraying the recall in a Trump-inspired seizing of power in a State where Democrats have almost a 2:1 registration advantage, control and hold every national office Superiority in Congress. Team Newsom, with some help from other Republican candidates, also intensified media reports about extremism. Elder’s questionable personal behavior was highlighted shortly after he became the top substitute. The potential for turnout was stifled by both enthusiastic Republicans who supported dismissal and complacent or passive Democrats who resisted when campaign peaked (every ballot sent in the mail had a significant impact). The percentage of Democrats may match, or exceed, that of Republicans.

Many lessons learned will be shared about this election. It is important to remember that incumbent governors could be removed from office by either party. If Newsom had not made this terrible mistake, it would have been impossible for Republicans to recall all Democratic governors over the years. Newsom’s reemergence was also instructive. His campaign against recall was successful, but his COVID management has helped him a lot. This has made him more adept at handling the original pandemic, or any other Delta governors, than he was before.

As for Republicans, it would be wise to avoid the undocumented “election fraud” allegations that Elder and Donald Trump made before the first vote was reported. Californians who haven’t drunk the MAGA Kool-Aid don’t look or sound like a sect. This is not helpful considering their minority status in the state. They should also regret their decision to board the failed recall train. This leaves them in a weaker position for the next state election in 2022.

California voters and lawmakers might also be interested in reviewing their Voting Law to determine if they are really willing to promote this costly and complicated form of accountability between regular election. Although it gave political writers some excitement, it didn’t make any difference.

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