Newsom recall election: Millions of votes already in as last week of campaigning ramps up

About 5.9 million Californians have already voted in the recall election.

Newsom recall election: Millions of votes already in as last week of campaigning ramps up

With a week to go until Election Day on Sept. 14, more than a quarter of California’s 22 million voters have already weighed in on whether Gov. Gavin Newsom should keep his job or be recalled.

According to Political Data Inc., which tracks voter turnout in the Golden State, around 5.9 million Californians — or about 26% of registered voters — have sent in their recall election ballots. Surprisingly, that’s not too far behind turnout during the 2020 general election, which brought out more voters than ever before. In 2020, 6.4 million people, or 29%, had voted with about 10 days left before the election.

“Basically, we are just 11% behind the early turnout rate in that historic presidential election,” Political Data Inc. Vice President Paul Mitchell wrote in a weekend email update to subscribers.

The strong turnout could be good news for Newsom’s campaign, which needs to get ambivalent Democrats to participate in the election to win. Every active registered voter in California should have received a ballot in the mail. While Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in the state, with Democrats accounting for about 47% of the mailed ballots and Republicans about 24%, polling suggests GOP voters are more enthusiastic about the election.

As of Monday, Political Data Inc.’s tracker showed that about 30% of Democrats had voted, while about 20% of independent voters and 27% of Republicans had cast their ballots. Democrats account for 53% of the returned ballots, while Republicans account for about 25%.

In 2020, with then-President Donald Trump falsely suggesting that voting by mail is rife with fraud, many GOP voters waited to cast their votes in person at voting centers. Despite local party officials encouraging members to mail in their recall ballots, some Republican voters have said they plan to again vote in person, meaning GOP turnout could surge as more vote centers open.

While 45% of voters 65 and up have cast their ballots, just 20% of those 35-49 have weighed in and only 14% of voters in the 18-34 age bracket have sent in their ballots. About 31% of White voters have already participated, while just 17% of Latino voters have voted. Around 26% of Asian voters and 24% of African American voters have cast ballots.

While Newsom’s team has targeted Latino voters and rolled out campaign ads featuring popular supporters like Bernie Sanders, leading challenger Larry Elder, a conservative radio host, has also launched a major outreach campaign highlighting his support for charter schools, among other things, and touting the endorsement of former state Senate leader and Democrat Gloria Romero.

Whether it will be enough to affect the results remains to be seen. Recent polling from the Public Policy Institute of California suggests a majority of likely voters will vote no on the recall, making Newsom’s ouster appear unlikely.

“Democrats, young people and Latinos are underperforming relative to the 2020 General,” Mitchell wrote in his email. “But, again, that’s not really the required mark – the recall effort will need a much deeper tanking from these more progressive parts of the electorate, and a simultaneous spike in Republican turnout, to be successful.”

In a bid to rally his base, Newsom will campaign with Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday in the Bay Area. He campaigned with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the weekend and made a stop in San Francisco’s heavily Latino Mission District Tuesday. Harris, the former California senator and East Bay native, is well-liked in the area and, political analysts say, may do a better job of rallying young people, Latinos and other progressives who don’t feel particularly excited about supporting a relatively wealthy, White man who just months ago was dining at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in violation of his own coronavirus pandemic rules.

On Tuesday, California Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed to the job by his longtime ally Newsom, sent an email to California Democrats calling his friend “one of the most pro-Latino governors in California history.”

But the governor’s team isn’t the only campaign pulling out all the stops to get pandemic-weary voters to the polls. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was scheduled to hold a midday press conference Tuesday with Marc Klaas, the father of murder victim Polly Klaas, touting his plan to be tougher on violent crime. And Elder was in the San Gabriel Valley the same morning blaming Newsom for the rising cost of living in the Golden State.

On Tuesday, John Cox, a certified public accountant who ran and lost against Newsom in 2018, released a new ad featuring digs at both Newsom and Elder.

“I may not be as pretty,” Cox, who in the past campaigned with a live bear, says in the spot. “I’m not a cable tv personality or an entertainer like Larry. I’m the businessman.”