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California Recall Breakdown

In California the states Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, is being recalled. Today we’ll break down how the recall started, how you can vote, what the polls are saying, and the implications of the election.

How It Started: While every California Governor since the 1960’s have faced recall efforts, none of them actually made it to an election, let alone kicked the governor out (except for the 2003 recall which Arnold Schwarzenegger won). Gavin Newsom was no exception to this, and also faced many recall attempts, but they didn’t get enough signatures to make it to an election. What made Newsom’s recall gain steam, was that in late 2020, Newsom was seen dining in a restaurant with several people where there were no masks or social distancing. The recall effort eventually picked up enough signatures to make it an election.

How Californians Are Voting: Californians who are voting in the recall are given two questions. The first one asks if you want the governor to be recalled. If more people say no, they don’t want the governor to be recalled, then the second question doesn’t matter. If most voters say yes, the second question, which asks you which replacement candidate you want will come into effect. Critics have describe this as undemocratic because Newsom who might get 49 percent of the vote, could lose to a recall candidate (probably conservative talk show host Larry Elder) who might get 25 percent of the vote.

What The Polls Are Saying: Until August Newsom was leading in the polls by wide margins. However the race significantly narrowed up in August when Larry Elder, a conservative talk show host made a late entry, quickly becoming the front runner to replace Newsom. However in late August and early September, his momentum depleted and Newsom is now leading by margins similar to when Elder was not in the race. Right now we expect Newsom to win by around 5 to 10 percent.

The Implications: If Newsom wins the recall election, he still isn’t out of the woods. The election will leave him on shaky political ground, and in 2022 midterms he will likely have a strong primary challenger. Even if he wins the 2022 primary the general election could still be a narrow one. If Elder wins he probably wouldn’t be able to do much as democrats have a majority in the state legislature. However, if Dianne Feinstein, who is 88 years old, dies or resigns then Elder will appoint a Republican replacement and that would lead to a Republican controlled senate. Elder’s victory will be mostly a symbolic one which is bound to embarrass the Democratic Party.

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