Five lessons learned from Newsom’s victory:
COVID PRECAUTIONS CAN BE A HELP TO DEMOCRATS
The recall was intended to be a referendum against Democrats' rule in California and the high energy costs, homelessness, crime and homelessness that went with it. Newsom made it a referendum on Republicans' opposition for precautions against coronavirus through a little political jujitsu.
Newsom was opposed to mandates for vaccines and masks by the Republicans running to succeed him. The governor of California was pleased to emphasize that fact. Newsom ran an ad calling recall "a matter if life or death" and accusing Larry Elder, the top Republican candidate, of "peddling deadly conspiracy theory."
Ironically, recalls gained momentum after Newsom was caught at a lobbyist’s birthday party at a fancy Napa Valley restaurant in November -- unmasked and at a large party that violated his social distancing rules. His strategists argue that Newsom's leadership during the pandemic was a plus and that other Democrats should not be afraid to take the lead.
Newsom emphasized the virus in his remarks following the win. The governor said to reporters, "I want you to concentrate on what we said yes too as a state: Science, vaccines, ending this pandemic."
GOP REVEALS BASELESS FRAUD CLAIMS
Republicans' baseless claims of election fraud won't go away any time soon.
Republicans claimed the election was "rigged" even though ballots were still being cast. This was an absurd allegation considering that Republicans did relatively well in November under the same California electoral system, winning four congressional seats.
Trump's fake election fraud rhetoric quickly engulfed Republican politics. The claims were enthusiastically supported by the former president. The Elder campaign circulated a link to a petition demanding an investigation into the loss. This was several days before polls closed. Some Republicans believed this message meant that his voters should not bother to show up on Tuesday.
In a state where registered Democrats are nearly two to one with registered Republicans and where the GOP has not won a statewide vote since 2006, recall was always unlikely. Republicans have turned to conspiracy theories and fraud claims to explain the loss, which polls indicated would be coming in months. The party isn't going to ignore those suspicions. This led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, after Trump's defeat.
Elder appeared to be trying to get away from Tuesday night's inflammatory election claims. He said in his concession speech to supporters, "Let's be gracious even though we lose."
Some Californians are still worried about what might happen to their state.
Mindy Romero from the University of Southern California's Center for Inclusive Democracy said, "This will be the second election in succession where there are going be aggressive, emotionally charged voter fraud." "I can't see any positives from it."
NO LIGHT AT THE END OF CALIFORNIA'S TUNNEL
California Republicans had one chance at winning a statewide office in one the most blue states in the country with the recall. This recall allows voters to avoid a head to head match that could send them to their usual partisan corners.
This is what happened in 2003, when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won an appeal against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Although Schwarzenegger's moderate policies would not have won a GOP primary, they were attractive enough to voters fed-up with the incumbent. Some Republicans hoped this would happen again, with Kevin Faulconer (ex-Mayor of San Diego) on the ballot.
The GOP faced two problems. The first is that California is vastly different from 2003. It's more liberal and diverse. The state has more than 3,000,000 more registered Democrats than it did during the last recall. However, there are nearly 400,000 less Republicans.
Second, Faulconer didn't catch on. Instead, Elder's flamboyant style, which he learned over his years on talk radio and echoed Trump, helped him rise to the top of Republican pack. Newsom saw a positive contrast and began to pound Elder on the airwaves.
Many Republicans hoped that Elder's populist approach, which is African American, would appeal to California's diverse electorate. It doesn't appear to have worked.
Rob Stutzman, a veteran California GOP strategist, said that Larry Elder was just what Gavin Newsom needed.
NEWSOM STEPS BACK FROM BRINK
It's clear that Newsom won recall elections. He might not have emerged unscathed.
Newsom rode an anti-Trump wave when he was elected to office in 2018. Newsom lived in a state that saw it as the center of the "resistance” to Republican power in Washington. As a potential future presidential candidate, the former mayor of San Francisco was being considered.
Three years later, the state is still reeling from severe droughts and wildfires. Rolling blackouts are caused by heat waves. Megacities in the state are still plagued by homelessness, even though the housing cost is rising.
Newsom was not likely to be defeated in a partisan election, as the recall showed. The governor can claim a narrow win on Tuesday. However, the exact margin won't be known until all ballots have been counted.
California is home to a lot of Democrats, who might be eager to rise and help solve the state's problems. Stutzman stated that he believes there are Democrats watching the whole thing with their bibs on, and their knives and forks out.
Newsom's political operation was successful in keeping any major Democrats from running for the recall. This allowed him to portray the entire effort as a partisan Republican fraud. He will be able keep the challengers out of 2022.
MUDDLED SIGNNS FOR THE MIDTERMS
This recall was the first major election under Joe Biden's presidency. It served as a political stress test for both sides ahead of next year’s midterms.
Democrats demonstrated that they can turn out their voters, even though their party holds the White House. This is a historically difficult feat and the reason why the party in power often loses seats to Congress in midterm elections. Republicans want to win back both the House and Senate. The recall turnout was expected to rise -- experts predict it will be close to 12 million Californians who voted in 2018.
Elder and the recall were rejected. This shows that Trump-aligned candidates can still be toxic in certain areas.
The recall was also a referendum on Newsom's policies and Californians' views about how they want their state to be run. This included the issue of the coronavirus, which the governor has a lot influence over. Biden will be the subject of a referendum at the midterm elections. The power that the GOP could win, control of Congress, is not in the executive branch. That's where coronavirus regulations came from.
It is not clear that Democrats can defend Congress in the same way they did for their governor in the most populous state of the country.