All eyes are on a state where President Joe Biden received nearly 30 percent of the vote and where Democrats outnumber Republicans about 2-to-1, to see if voters would depose their Democratic governor. The data don’t appear to support it at first look, but the political atmosphere has created some unexpected crosswinds for Gov. Gavin Newsom this year.
What it would take for Republicans to recall a blue-state Democratic governor California
In a poll issued Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California, 58% of likely voters indicated they would vote against recalling Newsom, while 39% said they would vote for it. That’s fantastic news for Newsom. After some polls last month showed that support for keeping him in office only narrowly outpaced support for removing him, a stunning reversal of fortune for a Democrat who won by a 24-point margin in 2018, and in line with the institute’s May polling — after some polls last month showed that support for keeping him in office only narrowly outpaced support for removing him, a stunning reversal of fortune for a Democrat who won by a 24-point margin in 2018. But it’s not all good news for the governor in Thursday’s poll. Those going to vote in favor of the recall indicated they are more eager than usual about voting, while those preparing to vote against the recall said they are less enthusiastic than usual.
As the Republican movement to recall Newsom gained traction over the last year, Democrats were concerned that voter apathy on their side could erode their large voter registration advantage. A recall election with extremely high Republican turnout and relatively low Democratic turnout in a campaign where all 22 million of the state’s registered voters have received votes in the mail is Newsom’s worst nightmare scenario. data geniuses to figure out what it would take for that Democratic nightmare to become a reality — and the crucial variables to watch ahead of the September 14 election to see if it is. According to Political Data Inc., a firm that works for Democratic candidates, progressive organizations, and nonpartisan campaigns and is tracking ballots returned in real time, more than 4.6 million Californians had returned their ballots as of Tuesday, accounting for about 21% of all ballots mailed. Early examination of those votes suggests that Democrats may have shaken off some of their apathy over the special election, but Republicans, despite their longstanding reluctance to voting by mail, are also turning in large numbers of ballots. Many strategists expect more Republicans to turn in their ballots toward the end of the voting session or to vote in person on Election Day, so it’s too early to make large predictions based on the ballots returned thus far. The high level of apathy among voters on who to endorse as a replacement for Newsom might possibly prolong the process. With so many unknowns in this epidemic year, many Democratic strategists have been running scenarios in their heads to see how Republicans could pull off the most unlikely of victories in this deep blue state. Not every consultant thinks the same way about how Republicans will be able to recall Newsom, and neither the state parties nor the Newsom campaign would say what their specific goals are in order to win.
However, CNN enlisted the help of some of California’s political statistics specialists to illustrate how Republicans can overcome their math challenge in the Golden State. First, let’s go through the fundamentals. To preserve his job, Newsom needs a majority of people to vote “no” on the first question on the ballot, which is whether they want to depose him. The second item on the ballot invites voters to choose from a list of more than 40 candidates to replace him, with the winner being determined by the most votes. That means that if Newsom is recalled on the first issue, a leading Republican contender, such as conservative talk radio star Larry Elder, might win a slim majority of the vote on the second question and become governor. Newsom and his supporters have urged voters to simply vote “no” and return their ballots, avoiding the second question entirely — a technique designed to make the voting process easier for Democrats, but one that could make it easier for a Republican to win on that second issue. The party mix of the electorate participating in the recall election is the first indicator that provides some signals about where things are headed in this weeks-long election. As of Tuesday, 54 percent of the 4.6 million ballots were returned by registered Democrats, while 24 percent were returned by registered Republicans, indicating that the Democrats’ intensive advertising push to persuade their party’s followers to return ballots right away paid off.
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