Los Angeles (Trends Wide) – California Governor Gavin Newsom’s impeachment bid will reach its climax on Tuesday, with polls and ballot return data so far showing the Democratic governor in a strong position to stay in power in the most Democratic state. largest in the country.
The recall effort is largely a mail-in ballot election. All active voters in the state have been mailed a ballot before Election Day, but people who wanted to vote in person have been able to do so as well. In-person polls close at 8 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday in California.
A series of recent polls have shown that Newsom and the anti-recall effort have a solid lead. The most recent poll by the California Public Policy Institute found that 58% of likely voters are in favor of keeping Newsom in office, compared with 39% who would like to remove him.
But if a majority of Californians vote to remove Newsom, the second question on the ballot will determine who will replace him. Republican radio host Larry Elder is taking the contest, according to the same polls.
Newsom has closed the recall attempt by nationalizing the contest, focusing on what it would mean for California, one of the most liberal states in the country, to be represented by a Republican, comparing Elder to former President Donald Trump and criticizing the way other governors Republicans have led their states during the coronavirus pandemic.
Elder has repeatedly criticized Newsom for more local issues, ranging from homelessness to drought to crime, but has ended his campaign by baselessly suggesting “shenanigans” in the election, claims that have been repeated, without evidence, by Trump. and the right-wing media.
Newsom’s impeachment would be a huge blow to Democrats. But if he can win on Tuesday, the failure of the recall could affect Republican plans to oppose Democratic overreach in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, especially in a series of competitive races in the House of Representatives for California in 2022.
Here are six things to keep in mind on Election Night in California:
Is Newsom winning?
Newsom was blunt when asked Sunday if the margin of his potential victory Tuesday mattered.
“A win is a win,” Newsom said. “We are just trying to get our people out.”
But national Democratic officials and operatives across the country will be watching the results with an eye to lessons to learn for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. Revocations are one-time elections: they have much more to do with the incumbent, less with the national environment, and this election is held at a rare time for people to vote. But if the “no” in recall only wins by the single digits in deep blue California, a number of top Democrats will worry about what that bodes for the party in 2022.
Newsom’s team was aware of this prior to the recall. Early polls showed Republicans were much more encouraged to vote in recall, even if they are outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 in the state. That gave Newsom’s top aides a bit of a buzz, with his nightmare scenario being an angry Republican base and a depressed, or unconscious Democratic base.
Based on ballot return data (Democrats appear to outperform their party on ballots that have already been returned), the worst case scenario has not been met.
Will Elder accept the results?
Even before the results are announced, the leading Republican candidate Elder has exploited former President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud and baselessly raised the possibility of “shenanigans” in California.
Questioning the integrity of the election, despite the reality that there is no evidence of widespread fraud anywhere in the United States, has become popular in Republican politics and almost demanded by a rank and file that is still loyal to Trump. .
And Elder, who had previously said that President Joe Biden won in 2020 “fairly and directly,” has more recently embraced those same lies.
“The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans,” Elder said recently on Fox News. “And my fear is that they will try in these elections right here and the recall.”
Trump is goading Elder, who said in a statement full of falsehoods this Monday, the day before the election: “Does anyone really believe that the California recall election is not rigged?”
Elder said his campaign has a team of attorneys that will “file lawsuits in a timely manner” if problems arise.
Did Newsom’s nationalization work?
Newsom may have been looking to keep his job as a top California executive. But his message in the final days of the campaign has been remarkably national.
Newsom repeatedly warned Democrats that Elder was “to the right of Donald Trump,” invoking the former president who remains deeply unpopular in California. The governor also compared his leadership to that of Republican governors in Florida and Texas, accusing the two of putting their states in a “covid abyss.” And the Democratic leader asked numerous national Democrats, from President Joe Biden to Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, to come to his aid in the final weeks of the campaign. .
Elder has also adopted a national tone in his campaign by pointing out that he, in the possibility of a vacancy in the United States Senate, could appoint a Republican and end Democratic control of the legislative body.
This strategy has turned Tuesday’s election into a pseudo-referendum on whether Trump, and the current specter of Trumpism, can still knock out Democratic voters just under a year before the 2020 election.
Based on conversations with numerous Democratic voters in California, it’s clear that Trump remains the first thing to think about.
“When you have another candidate who is very similar to the one we had 4 years ago, that’s not what we want in California,” said Maria Morales, an elected official in El Monte, California. “We want to be as progressive as we have been in the past.”
A Proof of Popularity of Coronavirus Tough Measures
Republicans hoped that a recall election in blue California would reveal a national manual on how to act against Democratic overreach in the fight against the pandemic.
Instead, if the polls are accurate, it could have the opposite effect, revealing broad public support for measures like vaccination mandates Newsom has imposed on teachers and healthcare workers. Not only has Newsom gone for tough measures against the coronavirus, but he has made them a central element of his final argument to voters and used Elder’s promise to roll back the rules against the Republican candidate for governor.
Other Democrats on the ballot this year, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, have also accepted the vaccination mandates.
Although all three are running in blue states, their approach shows the growing belief among some Democrats that the tide of public sentiment is turning against Republicans who advocate for the personal rights and options of those whose refusal to get vaccinated is helping to prolong. the pandemic.
If Newsom wins by a healthy margin, it could strengthen Democrats’ belief that tough measures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 will pay off this year and in next year’s midterm elections.
The impact of the mail on voting
It could be a long night.
If the recall is very close, California is not known for quickly counting the ballots, which means that the final result of the contest could take some time to determine.
Every active voter in California has been mailed a ballot for this recall and, in order for those ballots to be counted, they must be returned in person before the polls close on Tuesday, or they must be postmarked on Election Day. and be received by county officials by September 21, seven days later.
California was one of the few states that changed its voting rules for the 2020 election and required all voters to receive a mail-in ballot before Election Day. That practice continued for impeachment and Democrats in the state legislature have introduced a bill that would ensure that all active registered voters receive a ballot for all future elections.
Newsom did not say whether he would sign the bill during a conversation with reporters this Saturday, but said: “The prospect of California extending it is offered to the governor of California and I look forward to being there to consider signing.”
There is probably no winning celebrity
Rarely has a candidate garnered so much attention, while registering so little interest from voters, like reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.
Jenner started the recall campaign with a major asset: In a huge field of little-known candidates, she had a household name. After all, California had seen political rookies take advantage of their celebrity status before: In 2003, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as the Republican winner after the state removed unpopular Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.
Jenner, however, sometimes faced hostile and transphobic treatment, including at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.
He stumbled in interviews, both early and late in the race, even saying on Trends Wide last week that he supported abortion rights, but also supported Texas’ decision to ban abortion beyond six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
And he left the state and country in July, in the middle of his campaign, to film a reality show in Australia.
Jenner now enters Election Day barely registering in polls.