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California Politics: Fear and Loathing on the Newsom Recall Path


The recall election, aimed at Governor Gavin Newsom, represents a yes-or-no decision on whether to leave office before his term ends, the kind of competition that no one should be surprised to find an additional one Dose anger and indignation the discussion. After all, it’s the political equivalent of firing someone.

But as the September 14 vote approaches, the rhetoric has gone way beyond keeping or firing Newsom. Instead, voters are told that the consequences could be disastrous.

“From my point of view, it’s an easy decision,” Newsom said Wednesday during a Zoom event with a group of progressive activists. “This is a matter of life and death. I really think that’s the case. “


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The leading replacement candidates have also increased the stakes beyond that of a traditional campaign.

Leading GOP contender Larry Elder uses “This is a Battle for the Soul of California” slogan in his television commercials – a more sinister version of President Biden’s promise to “restore the soul of America” ​​last year. Meanwhile, GOP candidate John Cox’s latest ad begins with shadowy images of tortured adults and children as words like “crime” and “wildfire” flash across the screen.

Even at a time when fear has replaced hope as the nation’s political rally, the recall has taken on a very dystopian feeling. And there is some evidence that Newsom’s warnings may serve their intended purpose.

More motivated Democrats

From the outset, it was widely seen that Newsom’s political fate would depend on whether Democrats and democratically-minded voters vote in the recall elections. The party leads almost 2: 1 over Republicans in voter registration, and researchers have estimated that more than 40% of independent voters usually support a Democrat when forced to vote.

Should the governor give up his base, the enthusiasm of Republicans and other conservatives would be a moot point. Newsom would prevail.

On Wednesday, the bipartisan Public Policy Institute of California released a new statewide poll that found 58% of likely voters would vote against the recall. The survey was conducted over a period of nine days up to the last weekend and, like all surveys, has an error rate that could make the race a little narrower or more one-sided.

But perhaps the most intriguing part of the poll was estimating that 46% of all likely voters are Democrats – almost the same percentage of Democrats in the registered electorate. That would mean the pitch has shifted from what it was a few weeks ago, with reports that many Democrats weren’t very interested in the vote.

Republicans were slightly over-represented in relation to their number in the electorate (28% of the poll’s likely voters versus 24% of all registered voters). Independent voters made up a slightly smaller proportion of the poll’s likely voters.

For the recall question to pass, the Democrats either have to skip the vote or many of them have to turn on Newsom. And the survey suggests none of these things happen. In fact, the latest polls conducted by analysts at Political Data, Inc. shows that 53% of all votes so far have been Democrats – an even clearer indication of Newsom’s strong political vital signs.

The recall could depend on the pandemic

This week, the governor’s supporters dug deep into their political game book about the end of the world. Her new TV ad, while reviewing former President Donald Trump, insists that the Republican recall challengers would enact guidelines that will spark a new, deadly wave of COVID-19 infections.

“If you vote yes, vote for an anti-vaccine Trump Republican,” warns the narrator as an image of a vaccine bottle appears on the screen, covered by an icon with a red crossed out symbol. “Voting no keeps Gavin Newsom in the fight against the pandemic based on science, compassion and common sense.”

The ad does not name Republicans or mention that all leading GOP candidates claim to have been vaccinated. They have also expressed their support for COVID-19 vaccinations but oppose nationwide vaccination regulations.

Again, the latest nationwide survey offers a glimpse into Newsom’s strategy. A large number of likely voters cited COVID-19 as the state’s most pressing problem, as did voter subsets of Democrats, Latinos, and senior voters. (Older voters are now casting more ballots than young voters.) And 58% of likely voters said the governor is doing a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

It also likely explains why Newsom’s only official event in nearly two weeks was on Tuesday when it celebrated the news that more than 80% of eligible Californians received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In fact, it is likely that the pandemic and vaccinations have long been at the center of his recall strategy. Newsom hinted at this in an interview with the Times editorial team on Aug. 11, just before the ballot papers were sent out to voters.

“You will see a strategy to really define cause and effect, the consequences,” he said. “You will see how it unfolds.”

It’s also important to remember that elections adapt to events. And the governor’s warnings about the consequences of a Republican successor could be expanded to include other issues following the US Supreme Court decision this week to enact a Texas law banning most abortions. For Democrats and abortion rights activists, it could serve as a rallying cry against candidates like Elder, who told reporters this week that he disagreed with the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling but said abortion “doesn’t everything is what has priority for me “. List “if selected.

On his list, at least for the campaign, is the crime rate in California. On Thursday, Elder hit LA County Dist. Atty. George Gascón called the prosecutor “a product of our governor Gavin Newsom”. While crime rhetoric has overlooked data showing a larger national trend that extends beyond national borders, this is a common theme for Republican candidates and one that is closely aligned with the Party’s traditional platform against crime.

And Newsom seems more than happy to focus on Elder, using him as a proxy for a variety of conservative GOP positions.

“I think people will wake up and know what Larry Elder is about,” Newsom said Thursday during an event in San Francisco.

Elder controls the GOP conversation

In the recall campaign, Elder used the value of a career conservative talk radio connections to quickly build a support base and capture the national spotlight. And he has made it clear that he will not go away if the callback is unsuccessful. The new PPIC poll offers a glimpse of how quickly he’s dominating the California GOP landscape.

57 percent of likely Republican voters said they will support Elder’s recall. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was a distant runner-up with 8% support. For the others, it gets worse from then on: MP Kevin Kiley sees 5% support, Cox only 3% and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner – whose media exposure never matches measured support – sees no support.

While these are dismal numbers for anyone outside of Larry Elder’s name, it may be most noticeable when it comes to Faulconer and his attempt to run a mid-level nationwide campaign. No Republican has been talked about more than Faulconer in recent years when it comes to pulling the party out of its electoral wasteland in California. Recall that as of 2010, the Democrats won 34 of the last 36 elections for national office. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

It should be noted that, like Elder, Faulconer has vowed to run for governor in 2022 if he fails that year. And his recent criticism of the Spitzenkandid candidate could lay the foundation for one of the key storylines of the upcoming election cycle, a reflection of the deep divisions in the GOP over whether the party needs to change to win in California – or whether that would be a sell-off of its principles .

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Recall Summary

– Should Newsom be recalled, one of its opponents could attempt to lead the nation’s most populous state through a coronavirus surge this fall.

California’s personal income taxes, which are levied under rules that require those who earn more to pay the most, could be dramatically reshaped should voters choose a leading Republican candidate for removal.

– In his struggle to keep his political life afloat, Newsom has bet his future on how well he can emulate former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

– He has 1.7 million followers and no political experience. Meet Kevin Paffrath, the most famous Recall Democrat.

– How many times have product recalls been successful in California? Hardly ever.

California’s political blitz

– Democratic lawmakers have dropped a controversial proposal to mandate vaccines in the state, a move that would have been difficult to pass in the last few weeks of the legislature.

– As California continues the slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that shut many businesses down over the past year, new $ 600 federal stimulus checks have been deposited into the bank accounts of residents, who run up to $ 75,000 annually to earn.

– George Skelton writes that Newsom will likely never get Robert F. Kennedy’s killer out of jail.

– A federal appeals court upheld an injunction preventing Los Angeles from taking and destroying bulky items used by the homeless on public property.

– A union leader leads Orange County Democrats’ efforts to revise the county’s policies.

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