Following the defeat of the Recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, both Republicans and Democrats are now looking ahead to 2022.
For Democrats, they are using the victory to help show continued support for Newsom and his policies concerning everything from the environment to the economy to, most critically, COVID-19 vaccination mandates. For Republicans, they are looking at the new lay of the land in California and looking where they now need to improve during next years mid-terms and possibly take back some more House seats.
Just over a month ago, polls showed that the question of the recall was split 50-50 by likely voters, with pro-recall supports having gained steadily in the polls throughout the early summer. Newsom, who had earlier dismissed the recall, was suddenly terrified that he might lose, and on August 5th, sent out a red alert message.
Campaign and party funds were quickly burned up on ads warning of the recall, with Newsom in particular reaching out to well known national Democrats for help and invoking the name of former president Donald Trump in an effort to paint it as a Republican recall. Polls began to creep back in favor of Newsom, especially with conservative talk show host Larry Elder polarizing many voters as soon as he became the top replacement candidate around that time.
During the final weeks, appearances by Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden, as well as a major focus on Newsom’s COVID-19 policies brought out supporters en masse. The renewed focus on COVID-19 policies, especially in contrast with Elder’s anti-mandate stance, has been called by many experts as the main deciding factor on how the recall went the way it did.
But for Republicans in California, it’s far from over. Many political experts have pointed out that, despite the loss, California still has more than enough GOP and conservative strength to turn things around next year.
GOP remains a force in California despite recall loss Tuesday, may see more gains in 2022 mid-terms
“It’s too soon to say what exactly did cause the recall election to fall apart for recall supporters for sure,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz told the Globe on Wednesday. “As of right now, 74% of the total votes in the recall are in. And while Newsom was first reported to stay with 70% of the vote last night, it’s now under 64% and has been falling all day, so there is a chance he can get below 60%. And that would be an important mark. Get him below where he was 3 years ago in terms of support.
“Also, remember that Newsom has only been at around 50% approval for the better part of the year. He may have beat the recall, but he isn’t exactly liked by many, even within his own party. Someone like Kevin Paffrath, who is currently in second amongst recall candidates in voting, can give him a run for his money in the primary next year. And if the GOP picks Faulconer or some other guy more to the center who just picked up a lot of notability during the recall, then the race next year can get interesting. Especially if Newsom falters again like he did with the French Laundry incident last November.”
“You need to also remember that, even with so many Democrats in California, there are still a lot of Republicans. They even have some of the most prominent in the nation, like minority Congressional leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who may become Speaker next year if the House flips. California is still blue, but they have more Republicans than Texas does. Over 6 million voted for Trump last year in California, while just over 5 million voted for him in Texas. If it was someone more moderate, it would have been even higher. Texas may have a greater percentage of Republicans, but the population of California is so much higher that they still have a comfortable lead in the total number.”
“The GOP has not written off California by a long shot. It’s not like Vermont or DC. California has numerous red seats, growing too after some wins last year. They have a LOT of wealthy supporters which really helps with party fundraising. They are helping lead the way in greater racial and gender diversity in the party, something critical for the future. And, despite being blue, voters there are still rejecting left-leaning measures left and right like affirmative action by large margins. And that’s not even getting into the more nitty-gritty where Republicans have advantages over Democrats in California.
“The recall was worth a shot, it just didn’t pan out.”
“This whole thing reminded me when I was consulting back in Ohio a few decades ago in the early 90’s. Back then, Ohio was a swing state but still seen generally as leaning to the left. Me and others had just gone on a blitz for a bunch of state-level candidates but we still ended up not getting enough to switch the Assembly over. By a lot.”
“I was driving one of the Republicans who lost to the Dayton airport when ‘Beware of Darkness’ by George Harrison came on the radio. He said ‘How fitting’ and just stared out the window. Well, in the next several years that huge defeat just galvanized the party and they kept hitting hard election after election, winning some races, and losing others, but generally increasing each year despite Democratic voters still outnumbering Republicans.”
“By 2000 the GOP had a strong majority in Columbus and by 2016 Ohio was no longer a blue or even a swing state. They were confirmed to have gone red. That candidate I drove to Dayton had become a campaign manager by this time, and when his guy won in Cincinnati he called me up. In the background after a few minutes that same Harrison song came on. He remembered it. He remembered where he was when they lost big. He didn’t forget.”
“For Californian Republicans, they just need to keep hitting, even though the state is blue. Eventually something works. And based on 2000, where some seats were gained, and the recall, where you forced Newsom to put out all the stops and disrupted both the President and the VP to come out here, it is by no means over. There are many house seats on the line, and with gerrymandering, there may be some unique opportunities.”
“Just don’t forget this. All the best political comebacks were started by a defeat.”
The California primary elections are due to be held June 7, 2022 across the state.
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