California Governor Election: On September 14, California voters will decide Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fate in the Golden State’s first gubernatorial recall in nearly two decades. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: California Governor Election
In the fall of 2016, both the United States and the world witnessed one of the greatest political upsets in modern history. Former president Donald Trump defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton after securing a majority of the Electoral College. The results were so shocking because prior election polling showed Clinton running away with the race. On October 18, 2016, a New York Times headline read: “Hillary Clinton has a 91% chance to win.” Likewise, Reuters reported that “Clinton has 90 percent chance of winning” on November 7, 2016, and a survey from the Princeton Election Consortium found that Clinton had “a 99 percent chance of winning.” Finally, US News and World Report ran a headline 11 days before the race titled “7 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton’s Win Over Donald Trump is a Done Deal” (which has since been changed), claiming “It’s all over but the voting.” The moral of the story is that the Democratic party fell victim to complacency. They underestimated the enthusiasm of Trump’s base, especially in the pivotal Rust Belt region. Why does this matter? Well, Democrats are worried that something similar is currently unfolding out west. On September 14, California voters will decide Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fate in the Golden State’s first gubernatorial recall in nearly two decades. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a simple way to beat back the recall election that could force him out of his job: Get Democrats to vote,” Kathleen Ronayne and Michael Blood report for the Associated Press. “But it may not be as easy as it sounds. Democratic registration almost doubles that of Republicans in the state, but party leaders are alarmed because Republicans appear more eager to vote … Some Democrats might not be paying attention because they are convinced Newsom is headed toward an easy victory.” With that as a backdrop, here’s what both sides are saying about the California recall.
On The Right
Right-leaning outlets and commentators aren’t fans of recalls. “They weren’t part of the Founders’ vision, and in many ways, they undermine it,” Dominic Pino writes for National Review. At the same time, voters need some form of recourse for what they believe is absolutely reckless leadership in one of the country’s largest, most influential states.
“California’s Progressive Fall Guy” The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: “The recall is in part a referendum on the Governor’s excessive and destructive COVID lockdowns. California boasts the third highest unemployment rate in the country (7.7%). Last fall he was caught violating his own COVID rules with friends at the ritzy French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley. … To many voters, the dinner symbolized progressive detachment from the problems that Californian are experiencing in their daily lives. … Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state almost 2 to 1. … But you can tell Mr. Newsom is anxious by the way he has been lashing out at his opponents and portraying them all as Trumpian anti-vaxxers. … Mr. Newsom has become the fall guy for Sacramento Democrats who have put progressive ideology over common sense. Even if the recall doesn’t succeed, it should cause Democrats to ask why so many voters want the end of one-party rule.”
“In one-party states like California, recalls are the only way to keep pols accountable” Jonah Goldberg, New York Post: “I am opposed to recalls on principle. … California’s problems — homelessness, crime, tax flight, etc. — are largely the result of years of one-party rule. The only way to cure one-party rule is to reform the opposing party — in this case, the GOP — to be competitive. Recalls put off that reckoning. … But California may be an exception to the rule, precisely because the California GOP seems unsalvageable at this point. … On the one hand, in an age when politics is driven by personalities, holding the personalities accountable is better than nothing. On the other hand, the recall will almost surely fail, and an emboldened Newsom (and Democratic Party) will take all the wrong lessons from that. Direct democracy in California is a necessary bulwark against the excesses of one-party rule, but it’s insufficient in the long run.”
“Larry Elder Is Heating Up the California Recall Vote” Aron Ravin, National Review: “Gavin Newsom’s reign of idiocy may be nearing an end. He exhibited grotesque displays of hypocrisy during his California lockdowns, when he held fancy dinner parties while Californians were forced out of work and onto the dole. He has overseen total mismanagement of Californian forestry, which has played a role in the worst wildfire seasons in state history. Under his regime, California has experienced record crime, homelessness, and drug deaths. … It should come as no surprise that a potential disaster for the California Democratic Committee is brewing. … Larry Elder … has since rocketed into the front-runner position among challengers with a considerable lead. … Can you imagine the uproar if this succeeds? Gavin Newsom — the rich, white, progressive San Franciscan — defeated by Larry Elder, a hard-line black conservative who grew up in South Los Angeles. In California. The media would short-circuit.”
On The Left
Left-leaning outlets and commentators are acutely aware of how this recall could be a disaster for Newsom and the Democratic party if they can’t get their base to turn out. They think the recall is a joke but note that “angry people vote.”
“Democrats must scare their voters to the polls to fight Newsom recall” Harold Meyerson, Los Angeles Times: “How can Newsom prevail? His backers must focus somnolent or distracted Californians on what a Republican governor would likely do to the state if Newsom were recalled. … So just what could — and couldn’t — a Trumpian governor do? [He or she] could bring any state programs he or she doesn’t like to a shuddering halt. That could include mask mandates during the pandemic, or state promotion and provision of COVID-19 vaccinations. … He or she could deploy the National Guard to the border to stop the flow of immigrants and appoint ‘scientists’ who pooh-pooh global climate change to decision-making posts. … The intensity of the right’s hatred of Newsom and all things Democratic will never be matched by an equivalent intensity of Newsom love. The way to defeat the recall is for Democrats to show what would befall California under a Republican who governs in the spirit of Donald Trump. Only that would gin up an anti-recall intensity among most California voters.”
“Gavin Newsom isn’t safe yet. Angry people vote.” Helaine Olen, Washington Post: “The people who don’t like Newson, well, really don’t like Newsom. … The anti-Newsom movement includes many small-business owners hurt badly during state-ordered shutdowns. … [Also] schools in Los Angeles — the nation’s second-largest school district — and San Francisco are scheduled to open for in-person learning on Aug. 16. If the current surge of the delta variant wreaks havoc with Newsom’s plans, you can expect his rivals to go to town. … As any political consultant knows, angry people vote. (See: Donald Trump, 2016 and 2020.) The satisfied and the indifferent are harder crowds to reach. It’s becoming clear that Newsom’s political future is likely to come down to how good his side is at motivating the latter groups — and making sure a majority back him in September.
“The Gavin Newsom Recall Is a Farce” Ezra Klein, New York Times: “Most Californians want no part of this nonsense. … In May, the Public Policy Institute of California found that 54 percent of likely voters approved of Newsom’s performance, and 57 percent opposed recalling him. But a more worrying number was tucked into the cross tabs: Those who want Newsom gone were 15 points likelier to be following the recall closely. … If you loathe Newsom, the recall is your sole hope for relief. If you like him, the recall is a distraction you’d prefer to ignore. But it means California could see a popular governor ousted not because a majority think he’s failed but because they tuned out an unusual midcycle referendum they didn’t ask for and weren’t paying attention to.”
Flag This: California Governor Election
According to the latest Berkeley IGS Poll, “36% of the state’s registered voters say that if voting in the recall election they would vote Yesto recall the Governor, while 51% would vote Noto retain him,” director Mark DiCamillo writes. “However, the election will be decided not by the overall electorate, but by only those who choose to take part in the recall. And, when the voting preferences of those considered most likely to participate are examined, the outcome becomes much closer, with 47% favoring Newsom’s recall and 50% favoring his retention.” Meanwhile, in a poll from ABC 10News/San Diego Union-Tribune, 49% of 500 registered voters said Newsome “should be recalled.”
Flag Poll: California Governor Election
Should California Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled and removed from his position? Comment below to share your thoughts.