The returns were not complete Wednesday -- 26% of the votes were still uncounted -- but Newsom had a 2.5 million vote lead, which gave him an insurmountable advantage. He continued to do business as usual a day after his victory. To discuss the pandemic in Africa and education investments, he visited an Alameda County School.
It was once again a time for the state GOP to assess what went wrong. Only 36% of Republican voters voted to elect Newsom, despite pre-election polls showing a high level of enthusiasm for an election driven by GOP activists. The party is looking for a rebound and this preliminary result was within the range of previous statewide elections.
In 2020, Joe Biden, then-Democratic candidate, defeated Donald Trump in California. He received 63.5% of votes, while Trump got 34.3%. Similar results were seen in the 2018 state races when no Republicans could break 40 percent.
Newsom received 62% of the vote in his first attempt to become governor. John Cox took 38%. These margins of double-digits are indicative of a simple political truth in California at the moment: California has more Democrats than Republicans. The party holds a nearly 2-to-1 statewide registration advantage.
Many conservatives are pushing for issues that would be out of line with liberal-minded voters, such as reducing environmental regulations and COVID restrictions.
The results revealed that it would be difficult for a hard-partisan Republican to win the election, with the country and state divided politically, said Tim Rosales, Republican consultant. He advised Assemblyman Kevin Kiley who was running for the recall to replace Newsom.
Newsom spent the final weeks of his campaign warning about the danger to Democratic policies on climate, pandemic, and "Trumpism." He then focused his criticisms on Larry Elder, the Republican leading candidate, who was trying to become the state's first Black governor. Elder was far ahead of all the other replacement candidates.
Paul Mitchell, of Political Data Inc. said that even when you compare different statewide races with different candidates, it "shows the same results for Republicans" in recent elections. The firm gathers voting research for Democrats and independents, as well as academics. It clearly shows that Republicans will not be competitive in the current climate.
Cox, who ran in the recall again, lamented the low turnout of supporters and noted that the total vote was well below the 6 million votes Trump received in the State in 2020.
He asked, "Where were these voters?" "Is it that people don't believe in change?"
California's Republican registration has dropped to just 24%. This means that GOP candidates are at a significant disadvantage in every routine statewide race. Democrats hold every state office and control the Legislature and congressional delegation.
However, the recall was different. Newsom's replacement would have been among the top vote-getters of 46 candidates, which did not include any significant Democrats. This meant that a Republican could win the governor's office with support from a small number of GOP and conservative voters.
It didn't happen. Newsom easily won the first question on the ballot: should he be removed? Yes or no. This made the replacement voting irrelevant.
Although Republicans still have a difficult time winning statewide races, the party is making inroads in Congress. In 2020, it won four Democratic House seats. These seats will again be in hot competition in 2022.
Although Newsom leads in preliminary state recall results, Newsom is still ahead in Southern California. However, recall contests are closer in Southern California competitive House districts, according to Sam Oh. Sam Oh ran winning 2020 campaigns in the 48th and 39th Districts for Republican U.S. Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim.
He said that preliminary numbers from election day showed the recall results were very close in targeted seats. This refers to districts held by Steel or Kim. It's a great opportunity for 2022 to be very competitive.
These districts could however be reshaped by once-a-decade reapportionment, which adjusts district boundaries to accommodate population shifts. The dynamic driving the recall could be different from the factors that influenced each House race.
Many conservative voters applauded Elder's sudden rise as a star in the GOP recall field. Many conservative voters applauded Elder's sudden rise to stardom in the GOP recall field.
The GOP is looking for a way forward after Trump's presidency, but there were signs of Republican infighting.
Two GOP consultants working for rival candidates highlighted party divisions at a Sacramento Press Club panel the day after the results were announced. Ron Nehring (a former chairman of the state party who supported San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer) blasted Elder for making accusations of voter fraud after the election was over.
Nehring stated, "It is astonishing that any campaign would seek further to undermine public confidence in our election with absolutely no evidence to support it."
Jeff Corless, Elder's campaign manager said that it was crucial for Republicans to ensure integrity in elections. Elder was often asked by Corless if Democrats would steal his election.
Corless stated, "At the end the day, electoral integrity is important and should not be questioned."
Jessica Millan Patterson, Chairwoman of the State Republican Party, called Newsom’s victory "hollow" while predicting that he would be hurt in 2022 when he is back on the ballot.
She tweeted, "California is still a state with surging crime and raging wildfires... crippling drought... unaffordable homes and suffocating tax are a sobering fact."