The Republican Party’s plot to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom with one of its own extremist candidates is crashing and burning in spectacular fashion, not only leaving Newsom in office, but giving him a big boost heading into next year’s midterms, when he will once again be on the ballot as a candidate for reelection.
With 16.7% of precincts partially reporting, Newsom had a commanding lead on the pivotal initial question in the recall, “Shall Gavin Newsom Be Recalled (Removed) From the Office of Governor?” Vote-rich counties like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara are overwhelmingly backing the no position.
The no vote stood at 68.2% as of press time with 5,074,795 votes, and the yes vote was 31.8% (2,365,971 votes). Networks began calling the recall for Newsom shortly before 8:40 PM Pacific Time, having seen enough data to conclude that the Republican Party’s attempt to seize the governorship had failed.
Newsom delivered a short victory speech beginning at 8:53 PM Pacific, declaring that Californians had not just voted no on the recall, but yes on environmental justice, yes to reproductive rights, yes to science, and yes to vaccines.
“I’m humble, grateful, and resolved,” the Governor said, focusing most of his remarks on his hopes for the future and expressing a desire for the rejection of the politics of division, extremism, and cynicism.
The Governor took no questions and concluded his remarks just before 9 PM.
“Once again, voters rejected the Republican Party’s denial of the pandemic sweeping our country and their subsequent refusal to address it, rejected Republicans’ disproved conspiracy theories about our elections, and rejected Republicans’ unwavering loyalty to the man who caused it all — Donald Trump,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison.
“Tonight is a win for the bold agenda put forth by President Biden, Governor Newsom, and Democrats in Congress to build our country back better, deliver on their promises, and get our country back on track.”
“I am confident we will continue to do so in 2021, 2022, and beyond. Governor Newsom provides the smart, capable and focused leadership necessary to keep Californians safe and build the state’s economy back better amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He has a strong record of delivering for the people of California and I look forward to watching him continue that critical work as governor.”
“The people of California have spoken. They chose to keep an accomplished governor who has led on climate & economic inequality. In doing so they rejected a right-wing attack on science and public health. Congratulations, Governor Newsom,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.
“I’m happy to have strong partnerships with leaders like [Newsom] and Oregon Governor Kate Brown up & down the West Coast,” Inslee continued.
“Our constituents are better served because of it. This election is also another resounding loss for the politics of Donald Trump. Today’s results confirm what we already know, that most people across the country believe in the lifesaving public health measures that will help us defeat COVID-19.”
“It took a petition signed by 12% of California voters in the last election to initiate the recall. The recall cost the state $278 million. The race was effectively decided within fifteen minutes of polls closing,” the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher tweeted.
Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak offered this “tweet-length” analysis: “There are far more Democrats than Republicans in California. Early interest + intensity were on the side of recall proponents. Once Gavin Newsom and allies were able to rouse Democrats to vote in a weirdly timed election, that was that.”
Past NPI President and current NPI Advisory Councilmember Robert Cruickshank noted: “There were nearly 10,000 people sending more than 46 million texts against the CA recall this summer, a truly massive mobilization.”
Change Research, one of NPI’s pollsters, pointed out the polling has suggested a Newsom victory for a while, and especially in the final weeks, thanks to successful Democratic efforts to rouse voters ahead of today’s deadline to return ballots.
“In late August, it had been over two months since any poll showed Newsom with a double digit lead,” Change’s Ben Greenfield wrote. “We were the first to see a changed race: No +15, due to an enthusiasm surge among Democratic voters. Based on early returns, looks like we were not only first, but we were right.”
“Yesterday, before results were released in the California recall, Larry Elder’s campaign launched a website promoting baseless claims that the election was stolen. We’ve reached the point where Republicans don’t even wait until polls close before claiming an election was rigged,” former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich reminded his followers, referring to the top Republican running to topple Newsom.
Elder, as expected, is currently winning the irrelevant second item on the recall ballot (who should replace Newsom) with a plurality of 42.1% (1,629,337 votes). Elder, who holds a wide range of extreme views, emerged as the “frontrunner” among a pack of Republicans hoping to take Newsom’s place after catching fire with the Republican base, who were looking for a suitably Trumpian candidate to get behind and rally around. They found their man… but he proved to be the perfect foil for Governor Newsom, President Biden, and the Democratic Party.
In a bit of symbolism of how anticlimactic the results were, MSNBC wrapped up its special coverage at 9 PM (midnight Eastern) and began re-airing The Rachel Maddow Show instead of continuing to offer live coverage.