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Total recall failure shows voters were not moved

WASHINGTON – It will take some time to count all the votes in California’s recall election, but Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory was so clear and convincing that the top Republican – Larry Elder – actually conceded.

Assistants to President Joe Biden, who campaigned for Newsom, were quick to attribute the result to voters approving the White House’s approach to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Democratic National Committee chairman Jaime Harrison went further, claiming both a mandate for Biden’s broader platform and a harbinger of future electoral successes.

“Yesterday was a victory for the bold program presented by the president @Joe Biden, @GavinNewsom, and Democrats in Congress to build our country back better, keep their promises and get our country back on track, “he wrote on Twitter.” I am confident that we will continue to do so in 2021, 2022 and beyond.”

And yet, sometimes an election is a low-key event.

In this case, the figures are instructive. With around 70 percent of the vote, 36.1 percent of voters wanted to oust Newsom and 63.9 percent wanted to keep him. This margin is not much different from Newsom’s gap in obtaining the governorship in 2018: 62% to 38%. It also roughly matches Biden’s part in defeating then-President Donald Trump, from 63.4% to 34.3%, in California in November. And finally, it’s not far from the 2-to-1 registration advantage Democrats have over Republicans in the state.

“Breaking: There are a lot more Democrats than Republicans in California,” wrote Dave Wasserman, US editor of The Cook Political Report, with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Luckily for Republicans, they don’t need to earn a Biden +29 states / districts to reclaim Congress in 2022.”

Indeed, the results suggest that little has changed in the partisan makeup or voter preferences of Californians since the nation last logged in to state politics. Furthermore, a recall election is such an unusual bivariate question that a change in the electorate of a single state would be difficult to use as an omen for next year’s midterms, let alone for the presidential election of 2024.

Democrats are right to be happy that the foundation of their electoral coalition – the largest state in their “blue wall” – has shown no cracks at a time when Biden’s approval ratings are upside down.

But the result is hardly a warning sign.

Political calculators from both parties will take a closer look at the results of New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in less than two months, where electorates from a range of competitive congressional districts are likely to provide more snapshots. reliable voters’ sentiment.

Between these elections and the mid-terms of November 2022, states will redraw the boundaries of the House districts. State governors and legislatures will be attentive to whatever lessons they can learn from New Jersey and Virginia, but recalling California will be farther from their minds.

Republicans have an advantage in the redistribution because they control the process in more states than Democrats, which means Democrats may need to perform better than in 2020 to hold power in Congress. But with Biden’s numbers dropping, the status quo is good right now for a Democratic Party trying to retain narrow majorities. Among other things, the recall denied Republicans proof that voters will punish Biden and his fellow Democrats for pushing vaccine mandates.

But that didn’t change the calculation for 2022 or 2024 in any measurable way.