The final stretch of California’s gubernatorial recall is underway

Californians are two weeks away from the Sept. 14 gubernatorial recall election regarding California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Early voting has already begun. County election officials began mailing absentee/mail-in ballots to all registered voters on Aug. 16.

With two weeks to go, here is a snapshot of the election.

Recall supporters claim Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.”

Voters are faced with two questions. The first asks whether Newsom should be recalled. The second asks who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If that majority is reached, then the candidate with the most votes on the second question wins the election, no majority required. Voters may vote on both questions regardless of whether they vote in favor or against the recall.

Forty-six candidates—including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans—appear on the ballot for the second question, including YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Real Clear Politics reports that, based on averages from four recent polls, 48% of respondents supported the recall and 48% said they would vote against it. For the second question, on average, 22% of respondents supported Elder (R) followed by 11% for Paffrath (D). A plurality of respondents gave some other response, which might include another candidate, leaving the second question blank, or unsure. Two polls included in the average excluded respondents from polling on the second question if they chose to leave that question blank.

Campaign finance reports as of July 31 show committees opposing Newsom’s recall have accounted for most of the money raised and spent. These committees have raised $50.0 million and spent $21.5 million spent. For the second question, Republican candidates have raised $16.0 million and spent $11.5 million, collectively, while Democrats have raised and spent roughly $400,000.

While the election will be held on Sept. 14, the results will not be certified until Oct. 22. A semifinal official canvass of the votes will begin at 8 p.m. on Election Day and election officials may begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots on Sept. 7. This means initial returns may be released soon after polls close. The official canvass will begin on Sept. 16 and must be completed no later than Oct. 14.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis (D). In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), received 48.6% of the vote on the second question.

Image Sources

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom: Shutterstock