Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom avoided a recall on Tuesday, keeping him in office leading the state. Voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly in support of Newsom staying in office.
Details of Election Results
As of Wednesday morning, approximately two-thirds of the votes had been tallied with Newsom avoiding the recall by a roughly 30-point margin. The majority of these votes came in through mail-in ballots ahead of the Tuesday in-person voting. As expected, Democrats had a strong showing in the mail-in ballots. While more votes will likely break in favor of the recall when the polling place ballots are tallied, it will not be enough to pass the recall measure.Read More »
According to the California Department of Finance, the cost of the recall election came in at $276 million.
What if Recall Had Passed?
Had the recall passed, it would have been certain that Larry Elder would have replaced Newsom at the helm in Sacramento. The conservative radio talk show host surged ahead in the polls in the weeks leading up to the election. Elder is likely to be a loud voice in the upcoming primary election in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of about 2 to 1.
Democrats Lead Late Charge
The recall had seemed to be a pipe dream for Republicans early in the summer. However, a surge in popularity in the polls for Elder inspired the party to pour millions of dollars into the recall effort.
The onset of the Delta variant throughout California over the summer left Newsom more vulnerable to the recall. Democrats were forced to go on offense to avoid the recall. Despite having far more registered voters in the state, lagging enthusiasm on the Democrat side left Newsom and his team worried that the recall may pass.
As a result, the party called in their big guns with President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigning in support of Newsom in recent days.
Newsom’s Response to Win
Newsom used the victory as a way to bolster the opinion that strict COVID-19 measures can prove to be a winning strategy in politics. In his remarks to the media on Tuesday night, Newsom equated the “no” vote to the recall as a “yes” vote for science and vaccines.
He also used this opportunity on the national stage to denounce the politics of former President Donald Trump. Newsom said that democracy is not a football that can be thrown around carelessly, striking a chord with American voters worried about the future of the nation.
The governor will not get much of a break from the campaign trail. Newsom is up for re-election next year.
Elder’s Response to Defeat
Elder did not resort to charges of election fraud when giving his concession speech. This surprised many political strategists, particularly since Elder had previously warned his supporters about the likelihood of “shenanigans” surrounding the voting process. Elder’s campaign had already launched a website tool for those who experienced issues with voting to submit claims of fraud. However, the candidate shied away from this line of thought in the hours after the election results came in.
History of Recall
It has been a long road to reach the September 14 recall election date. The petition for recall was first approved in June of 2020. The campaign to recall Newsom received the nearly 1.5 million signatures that it needed to trigger the process during the winter of 2021 after an extension was put into place because of the pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, it appeared as if Newsom was immune to political backlash. However, the recall efforts picked up steam when Newsom was caught enjoying a lavish dinner at a restaurant with a large group after instituting stricter COVID-19 protocols.