California Recall: Is it Time for Newsom to Open Champagne and for Elder to Concede Defeat?
Gavin Newsom will remain in office as California governor, overcoming the recall by a substantial margin, ABC News and many other US mainstream media are projecting. Is it appropriate to jump to conclusions while millions of ballots have yet to be tallied?
Over 58% of the votes had been counted less than an hour after the polls closed, according
to ABC News. The recall ballot contained two questions: first, whether Newsome should be removed and, second, which candidate should replace him. Initial results indicated that "No" side on the recall was leading by roughly a 2-1 margin.
All in all, 22 million California-registered voters received ballots by mail prior to the election, with some 8.7 million returning their ballots before the 14 September deadline. Roughly 52% of ballots were from Democrats, about 26% were from GOP voters, and nearly 23% were from voters belonging to another party or independent, according
to The New York Times.
As of 11:48 am (ET) on 15 September, 64% had voted for keeping the governor in office while 36% supported the recall measure. A separate chart showed
that Newsom's main contender, Republican politician Larry Elder, got 47% of the votes, outperforming his closest competitor Kevin Paffrath, a Democrat and real estate agent, by a margin of 37 percentage points
Although many US mainstream media sources called it a victory for Newsom, it will take over a month before the recall election's official results are announced by Secretary of State Dr Shirley Weber. California's 58 counties have 30 days after Election Day to complete ballot tallying
. While many opted to vote early, there will be a wait for provisional ballots and those that were not mailed before the 14 September election deadline, according to the NYT.
While many ballots have yet to be counted, Larry Elder appears to have conceded defeat. After the initial unofficial results emerged on 14 September, Elder told his supporters that "we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war". The GOP candidate highlighted that his campaign had managed to raise awareness of many important issues, including crime, poverty, homelessness, and educational failure in California. Elder, who was a popular conservative radio host before running for the governorship, hinted that he would continue to be involved in the state's politics.
Meanwhile, political observers have drawn attention to the fact that Newsom and his Democratic allies "spent a fortune" to win the vote. "The campaign to keep Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in power has raised at least $82 million - more than six times what the leading GOP candidate, Larry Elder, raised," independent journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted
on 14 September, adding that Newsom "raised $40 million more than all the anti-recall candidates combined".
In addition to that, President Joe Biden, his veep Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama also threw their weight behind Newsom by campaigning with the governor or creating political ads in his support. While recall proponents argued that the governor has mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, not done enough to address the state's homelessness, and other important issues, the governor and Democrats dubbed the effort an attempted "power grab" by "a ragtag crew of pro-Trump, anti-vaccine extremists".
Back in 2018, Gavin Newsom was elected governor by a wide margin. Besides this, US political observers noted that California has an enormous Democratic base, making a Republican victory almost impossible. Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump in California by five million votes in the 2020 presidential election.