Newsom won the recall election on Tuesday thanks to a healthy turnout from overwhelmingly Democratic voters. This ensures that the nation's largest state will continue to be a laboratory for progressive policies.
The margin of victory for Newsom's "no" answer to the question about recalling him was 30 points. This lead was built from votes cast via mail and before Tuesday's in person balloting. Although Newsom's lead could shrink slightly as more votes are collected at polling stations, it cannot be overthrown.
Newsom stated that "No" was not the only thing said tonight. "I want you to concentrate on what we said "yes" to as a nation: We said yes science, vaccines and ending the pandemic.
If the recall had succeeded , Republican talk radio host Larry Elder would almost certainly have replaced Newsom. This would have brought a completely different political worldview to Sacramento.
The recall was based on Newsom's pandemic approach, which included vaccine mandates and masks, and Democrats celebrated the result as proof that voters approve of their strategy. As Democrats and Independents look ahead to next year's midterm elections, the race was also a test to see if opposition to Trump and his conservative politics remain a motivating force.
Republicans hoped to see proof that frustrations over the months of pandemic precautions would drive Democrats away. Four U.S. House seats were won by the GOP last year. This was a victory that Republican leaders hoped would indicate renewed life in a state that has been controlled by Democrats for over a decade.
A recall election, however, is not a reliable barometer of national trends. California has a nearly 2-to-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans. Therefore, the results might not reflect governors in other states or how voters will rate members of Congress next year.
Trump, who had largely avoided the contest, made unsubstantiated allegations that the election was rigged during the final days of his campaign. As he addressed his supporters following the results were announced, Elder didn't mention fraud but did hint that this may not have been his last campaign.
Let's be kind in defeat. "We may have lost, but we will win the battle," he stated, adding later that Democrats had to concentrate on issues like homelessness and California's high living costs.
Newsom had compared the recall to Trump's supporters' efforts to reverse the election, and to a push by Republican-led states to limit voting access.
Democracy isn't a football. You don't throw it about. After his win, Newsom stated that it was more like an antique vase. You can throw it and smash it into a million pieces -- that's what you're capable of if you don't rise up and fight back.
He was the second governor to defeat a recall in American history, cementing his status as a prominent figure within national Democratic politics and protecting his prospects of a future run. Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived the recall in 2012.
California voters were asked two questions. Should Newsom be recall? And, if so who should replace him. Although only a few of the 46 names on this replacement ballot were known by the public, most did not gain support from voters.
Elder joined the race only two months ago, and quickly rose to top of the pack. Newsom was able to make the campaign a choice between Elder and Newsom, instead of a referendum on Elder's performance.
Newsom used Elder's opposition against the minimum wage, and his support for abortion rights to show that he was not part of the mainstream in California. While the governor called him "more extreme" than Trump, President Joe Biden referred to Elder's opposition to the minimum wage and abortion rights as evidence that he was outside the mainstream in California.
Although the contest did not bring California's 2003 recall to life, when voters overtook the Democratic Governor, it was close. It featured some quirky moments, including Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican movie star.
Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympian and reality TV star, entered the race but lost momentum. She left the state to film part of a campaign in Australia for a reality television show. John Cox, a businessman who lost badly against Newsom in 2018, hired an animal bear to accompany him. He branded himself the "beast" to Newsom’s "beauty."
Newsom will soon return to the campaign trail; he is up for reelection next election.
Orrin Heatinglie was the Republican who launched last year's recall effort. He called it a "David versus Goliath" battle, and stated that it was telling that Newsom had asked national Democrats like Biden "salvage his political career."
In the final days of the race, Newsom was supported by the president and other prominent Democrats. However, national Republican leaders kept the contest largely at arm's reach.
To make the ballot, California's 22,000,000 registered voters needed 1.5 million signatures. If a judge had not given organizers four additional months to collect signatures because of the pandemic, it would never have been presented to voters. Newsom was also present at a masquerade dinner at French Laundry with lobbyists, friends, causing outcry.
The recall supporters expressed their frustration at the months-long business closings and restrictions that kept most children from school. Newsom's critics were further upset by rising homicides, a crisis of homelessness and a scandal of unemployment fraud.
The broader public supported him. According to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, his approval rating remained above 50% during the pandemic. The institute poll found that 60% of Californians approve of Newsom's handling the pandemic.
Newsom saw the race as one of "life and death" consequences due to the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant. Newsom pointed out Florida and Texas, which were experiencing worsening surges after their Republican governors rejected vaccine mandates and masks, as warning signs for California.
Since 2004, Newsom has been considered a possible White House candidate. He was elected mayor of San Francisco and issued marriage licenses to LGBT couples. He won, maintaining those prospects. However, he will have to navigate around Harris' ambitions, who was also raised in San Francisco politics.
He had advantages when he entered the contest. California's electorate has a younger, more Republican, and less white population than in 2003 when the Democratic Davis was elected. Newsom was allowed unlimited funding, dwarfing his rivals and flooding TV screens with ads. His campaign was supported by millions of dollars from tech and business executives as well as unions representing public workers.