The date for the California gubernatorial recall election is rapidly approaching, and Democrats are about as terrified as President Joe Biden’s handlers would be if he decided to make an impromptu speech. The latest polling shows Gov. Gavin Newsom is in grave danger of getting the Golden State boot. But there seem to be indications that this particular race might have ramifications beyond determining whether Newsom stays in office.
Newsom Faces Recall
The prospect of unseating the current governor seems to have galvanized California’s often overlooked Republican voters. As of Aug. 25, a FiveThirtyEight poll showed 50.6% of respondents favor keeping Newsom in office while 46.3% support ousting him. Earlier, on Aug. 17, those wanting to keep the governor in office led the naysayers by only one percentage point.
Several factors explain why Newsom might be packing his bags after September. New York Magazine outlines some of these issues that include a judge granting an extension to those circulating the petition to bring about the recall election due to COVID-19, and the governor’s refusal to abide by his own onerous restrictions.
But it is the issue of enthusiasm that seems to be the most significant element in this equation. The bottom line is that those who believe Newsom should remain in office aren’t quite as jazzed about the whole thing as those who want to see him thrown out on his pampered derriere. The New York Magazine author writes:
“All along, the big fear in Newsom’s camp has been that the state’s large Democratic majority won’t bother to vote in a recall contest thanks to a combination of complacency and confusion. And polls that distinguish between registered and likely voters have been showing a big gap between Republican and Democratic interest in the elections.”
The article points out that “even Californians who approve of his job performance (steady if not large pluralities) don’t seem to like him a lot.” Despite the Democrats’ efforts to smear those leading the recall effort and the Republicans contending for Newsom’s spot, there just does not seem to be the will to ensure the governor keeps his job.
A Golden State California Comeback?
It seems clear that right-leaning Americans in California have been galvanized by the prospect of removing Newsom, who is much-reviled among conservatives. Indeed, the effort to defeat him has fired up the party’s base, and this newfound enthusiasm might just persist beyond the election. Republicans in California have been forced to live in a political environment set up to favor the Democrats. Indeed, the GOP has not won a statewide victory since 2006.
The fact that Republicans are so close to influencing politics after so many years of not having their voices heard could just animate the base enough to make a difference beyond the recall. Even if Newsom manages to eke out a victory, the fact that the numbers are so close might demonstrate that Republicans have more power than they think. Perhaps it could even motivate California conservatives to compete more aggressively in state and local races. If this were to occur, it could also change the national landscape; as they say, as California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.