California voters turned down a move to recall Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday, offering Newsom at least another year in office and a potential game book for the Democrats to beat Republicans if they see Trump-style ideals and politicians in future elections support.
Initial results, based on Democratic ballot papers, showed Newsom survived the recall push by a margin too great to be defeated by Republican-style walk-up votes on Tuesday. At 9 p.m., the Associated Press and other media outlets called for Newsom to vote.
“‘No’ is not the only thing that was said tonight,” Newsom said at a press conference in Sacramento on Tuesday evening. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: we said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic.
The vote came after leading GOP candidate Larry Elder, who had a clear lead in the field of 46 hopefuls to replace Newsom, and former President Donald Trump both made allegations of electoral fraud before votes were counted.
Although Elder and several hundred of his supporters gathered in a ballroom at the Hilton in Costa Mesa on Tuesday night for a so-called “victory party,” his team has already issued statements attributing a predicted loss to unproven claims of election fraud.
No such fraud has yet been identified. Southern California election officials said some routine voting issues were reported and resolved, such as: But they also said that the vast majority of the polling stations were functioning smoothly.
“We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war,” Elder said late Tuesday.
But the personal numbers released on Tuesday were only a fraction of this year’s votes. More than 9 million Californians voted before election day, and the total turnout is expected to approach 50%. California’s Democrats are two to one more than Republicans. And there was no evidence that independent and third-party voters cracked heavily against Newsom and that Republicans lacked the votes they needed to win the recall.
Voters weigh in
Bil Gaines, a 40-year-old Democrat from the unincorporated Riverside County parish of Winchester, sent his ballot to vote against the recall.
“I’m not the biggest Newsom fan in the world, but the Republican Party scares me,” said Gaines. “I don’t want to hand over the top job of the state to one of a motley collection of would-be fascists, talentless TV personalities and corporate climate deniers.”
Recall advocates largely rejected unfavorable polls and enthusiastically cast their votes to remove Newsom from office.
In the San Fernando Valley, David Lawrence left the El Camino Real Charter High School electoral center on Tuesday saying it was time for Newsom to leave.
“I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or a Republican. I just want someone to run the state, ”he said.
However, others said the alternatives to Newsom – including Elder and GOP leaders like John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer – did not offer realistic ways to fight the pandemic and revitalize the economy.
“The fact that the Republican front runner is a conservative talk radio host is pretty ridiculous,” said Ryan Maguire, a 34-year-old Democrat from Murrieta.
The elder factor
When asked what he thinks has moved public opinion about Newsom in the past few weeks, recall spokesman Randy Economy pointed to Elder.
“I know he’s a very popular talk show host,” said Economy. “But I think a lot of people on both sides of the aisle are very concerned about him and his leadership skills.”
Fred Smoller, professor of political science at Chapman University in Orange, said initial results point to a “blowout” for Newsom. And if that’s true, he said, Newsom has mail-in votes, “which made the voting a lot easier, and thanks to Larry Elder for sparking the Democratic base.”
But 90-year-old Republican Jan Edwards of Woodland Hills said she was thrilled to vote to replace Newsom.
“He’s a good communicator and has the right ideas,” said Edwards. “He’s all for freedom.”
Despite her enthusiasm for Elder, Edwards said she “knew this election would be rigged.” She cited a technical error that surfaced at her polling center on Saturday that caused a worker to falsely tell a group of voters that their ballots had already been cast.
The problem was resolved, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder Bureau, and Edwards was able to vote on a preliminary ballot. But she said she informed Conservative watchdog groups about what happened after Elder and other GOP leaders told voters to look out for fraud.
Others who reiterated the fraud allegations were former President Donald Trump, who said in a statement on Monday, “Does anyone really believe the California recall elections are not rigged?”
Since losing re-election, Trump has made baseless claims of electoral fraud that have been contested in dozens of court cases. Critics say the claims undermine democracy and backfire on Republicans by squeezing the GOP’s turnout.
The only confirmed report of a violation of the law related to voting in Southern California came Tuesday morning in LA County when an election worker was told to leave after wearing a pro-Trump hat and t-shirt that was on President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. A photo of the election worker gained prominence on social media.
State law prohibits such clothing under electoral law.
Even when major media outlets and the AP proclaimed Newsom’s election, Debra Lallo, a recall organizer from Yucaipa, San Bernardino County, still hoped the recall would prevail.
“I can’t believe they’re calling this race if they haven’t counted all of the ballots,” she said. “… If it doesn’t happen … the state of California is lost in my eyes.”
The same feeling was carried over to Elder’s campaign party in Costa Mesa, where the mood remained festive after the race was proclaimed.
Kirk Crawford, a retiree from Huntington Beach, said it was probably too early to call the race. He noted that most of his friends waited until Tuesday to vote in person, so their votes likely wouldn’t be included in the early return. But he was also sober about the chances of recall given the Democrats’ advantage in voter registration.
“I don’t know we came here with high expectations,” he said.
The law requires election officials to count all ballot papers received in their offices within seven days of election day, provided they are postmarked by September 14th. The results will be certified and final in 30 days.
After Newsom denied the dismissal, Newsom will now serve the remainder of his term, which ends January 2, 2023. He is expected to be re-elected in a November 2022 vote. Elder has announced that he will run against Newsom.
But in order for Elder or another Republican to oust Newsom, some observers suggested that the party might need to offer a more moderate alternative. Chapman’s Smoller said, “Republicans need to rethink who they are and what they stand for, or remain permanently marginalized in state politics, which is not good for democracy.”