But the results also may offer a glimpse of Republicans’ strategy if, as polls suggest, incumbent Governor Newsom is able to defeat the attempt to oust him from office with just over a year left in his term.
As if gathering new fuel for his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Trump has seized on the state’s recall, saying that “what’s going on right now in California with the mail-in ballots and all the crap that they’re doing.”
Tim Miller, political analyst and columnist and former political director of Republican Voters Against Trump, said that if the election is not close and Newsom wins by a wide margin, “How can you get any traction” by claiming the election was rigged. The argument seems rooted in the idea that “mailing a ballot to every person is asking for fraud,” even if the claims are unproven.
Yet following Trump’s lead, Republican politicians have seen that they “suffer no consequences for saying it was stolen.”
Newsom’s team has been very confident of a victory, not just because of the polls but in actual ballots returned.
Democrats have an advantage in registration and, according to the latest numbers, in ballots so far returned. According to Political Data Inc., 9.4 million of 22.3 million two-question ballots had been returned. Of those, 4.8 million came from registered Democrats, 2.5 million from registered Republicans and 2.1 million from independents.
According to CNN, exit polls tonight from Edison Research showed that the coronavirus as the most important issue to Golden State residents in the recall. Homelessness and the economy follow with far less of a hold on the public consciousness. Even though it was Newsom’s handling of the pandemic response that initially fueled the recall, the exit polls gave him some reason for optimism, as it showed that 39% believed that the coronavirus situation was getting better, 30% thought it was staying the same and 24% thought it was getting worse.
In the state that once elected Ronald Reagan to Sacramento twice, Republicans gauge the economy as the top issue in the tax heavy region, even as things have picked up considerably in recent months out of the health crisis and public coffers are almost overflowing. Elder and other Republicans have hammered Newsom and Sacramento Democrats on taxes and regulation.
The question is whether Trump’s involvement in the race will be a help or a hindrance to the recall’s prospects. He may be helping to motivate his own MAGA supporters with new claims and conspiracy theories — or it may end up depressing turnout among Republicans.
On Tuesday, following a rally in San Francisco, Newsom told NBC News, “They are quite literally trying to dismantle democracy and trust in this country, in this very nation.” The Governor said that the irony was that it was “going to hurt the Republican Party because they are telling their voters their vote doesn’t matter. So it’s a helluva thing.”
The recall was treated like a pre-term midterm election by cable news as a rolling segment throughout the day on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, which even
Leaning into the unfounded voter fraud narrative that Elder and others in the Golden State were declaring long before the polls actually closed, Fox News moved Martha MacCallum out to the West Coast for her daytime show The Story. On MSNBC, The Beat host Ari Melber made an overwrought comparison between the Republican fueled effort to dethrone Newsom to Chile’s decisive 1988 national plebiscite on keeping General Pinochet in power or not. For the record, the dictator lost and democracy returned to the South American country, which seems to mix the metaphor even more.
In an amusing and confusing aside, Fox News aired a rather effective Elder ad during the day that was actually not for the radio host’s campaign. With the firebrand Republican seen serenely strolling along a beach, playing with his dog and looking relaxed in shorts, the ad was for Relief Pain, a drug free ailment reliever that Elder has been shilling for over the years.