And the beat goes on.
With Governor Gavin Newsom handily turning back the recall challenge Tuesday a bit of a post-mortem of the effort seems in order.
First, as to the media response (see yesterday’s item), it was eerily as expected. A Los Angeles Times headline breathed a “Sigh of Relief” and the overwhelming majority of the other coverage played off of themes surrounding the need to reform the recall system, that Newsom now has a “broad and renewed mandate” for his policies, that this “humbling” experience means he will not face a serious Democrat challenger in next June’s primary and that, should he be re-elected governor, the now battle-hardened political heavyweight is very well positioned to run a strong campaign for the White House in the near future.
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True, many stories mentioned that the state is still facing “huge policy challenges” like crime, homelessness, water and power infrastructure, and wildfires; of course, these are the very same challenges that were not mentioned by the media during the campaign.
It has been clear from the beginning of the recall process – and well, well before that – that California’s legacy media is utterly in the tank for Newsom. But this time the coverage was beyond compliant, biased, slanted, propagandistic, and complicit – it was actively collaborationist and that is meant in the same sense that it was meant in World War II. (It may behoove the citizens of California to convene a “De-Newsomfication Tribunal” once he has left the governor’s mansion.)
The coverage of the issues was non-existent in a way that was clearly deliberate and knowingly, purposefully, and intentionally following, echoing, aiding, and abetting the exact campaign strategy the governor needed to work in order to win.
Even a minor deviance from this pattern could have opened up the door to actual debate about the issues facing the state but that could not be allowed to happen. Newsom was able, without changing anything else in his campaign, to simply replace the word “Trump” with the word “Elder;” just as Cartman in “South Park” did when he thought it would be easier to make more money by creating a Christian rather than a mainstream pop band – “It’s easy. When you write the songs, you just change ‘baby’ to ‘Jesus.’”
Cartman got rich – at least for a while – and Gavin got re-elected – at least for a while.
Looking at Tuesday’s numbers is, to be blunt, gloomy and somewhat surprising. It appears Newsom held more than 90 percent of the Democrat vote, a number even his campaign may not have expected.
It also appears – rather stunningly – that his message of “Vote NO, Don’t Vote” may have worked after a fashion. There was a 40 percent drop between the number of votes cast on the recall question itself and in the replacement candidate category. (All of the numbers referenced in this article are referring to the latest available figures which will not be the exact final figures).
While clearly a winner strategically, it does not exactly translate into a showing of personal support for Newsom and his policies but a more general party loyalty. Considering that of his main five campaign messages – Trump is bad, Elder is Trump, the recall is a scam, Senator Feinstein is going to bust a rivet soon, and you will die of COVID if you vote YES – none of them actually involved any mention of Newsom himself or his “progressive” policies. So claims that this was a win for him personally and that the state wants to keep heading in the same direction are something of a stretch.
There were other numbers last night that should give Newsom pause going forward (of course they won’t – “emboldened” narcissists with very rich friends who provide for their every need are not known for their introspection).
First, he had to spend – not even including the value of the adorative free media coverage – more than five times what every other recall-related entity – combined – had at its disposal.
Second, and more importantly, Newsom does not appear to have won the No Party Preference (independent) vote. Pending the final outcome it seems the best he could possibly hope for with that quarter of the electorate is a tie. Depending upon the candidate(s) who will challenge him next year, that is a significant – and exploitable – weakness.
While the “nationalization” of the campaign may now be over, one aspect of Tuesday’s vote will get attention across the country. That is the very different results between the walk-in (traditional) numbers and the mass mail-in figures. NO on the recall garnered about 68 percent of the mail-in vote but only about 40 percent of the walk-in tally – a staggering difference. The YES campaign clearly and handily won the traditional vote.
What that number does is very specifically confirm the lesson Democrats learned from the 2020 presidential campaign – the party’s edge in the mail-in voting universe is very real, very big, and must be protected and increased at all costs. Already existing movements to expand that voter base – everyone gets a ballot, no one has to show ID, more ballot harvesting, etc. – will intensify around the nation and at the state level. In DC, one can be assured that Speaker Pelosi has already used this new data to shore up support for the egregious “For the People” act.
It is interesting – and not all hypocritical – that it seems that those in power who have placed such onerous COVID-related restrictions on the public in the name of the common safety and security also do everything in their power to make sure that the beating heart of our democracy – the ballot box – is as unsafe and insecure as it can possibly be.
And now on to June!
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