• November 28, 2021

Newsom California’s withdrawal strategy needs Democratic participation

As the race to impeach Governor Gavin Newsom intensifies, his political survival is likely to hinge on a very simple question: Will California Democrats bother to vote in the September 14 special election?

And with only seven weeks until voters cast their votes, the anti-recall campaign strategy appears to be twofold: making sure California Democrats know there is a potentially competitive recall election on Sept. 14, and projecting that one. election as an attack on state policy. progressive values ​​rather than a referendum on Newsom himself.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in California’s voter registration, a new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute for Government Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times shows that California’s likely voters now they are divided almost evenly whether to remove the governor from office.

The poll also provides a stark illustration of the lack of interest in retirement among Newsom’s fellow Democrats compared to Republican voters, who are far more excited about the effort. It showed that Newsom has a 15 percentage point advantage among all registered voters, but with those most likely to vote in elections, his advantage fell to just three percentage points, just shy of the poll’s margin of error.

“Among the people who generally vote in elections, this Republican retreat would not have a snowball opportunity in Death Valley,” said Newsom’s senior campaign adviser, Nathan Click. “But in a rare election, once in a generation, off-year, we’ve always known that anything can happen and that Democrats, if they don’t vote, then there’s a real chance that the Republican inauguration will occur. successful.”

A Republican has not won state office in California since the Bush era, but a low turnout recall election without a prominent Democratic candidate on the ballot could provide the Republican Party with a unique opportunity to reverse that trend.

In early July, the Democratic-controlled state Legislature voted to revise election rules and effectively eliminate the required 30-day review of the estimated costs of revocation by lawmakers, speeding up the election schedule. Republicans argued that the change was meant to give Newsom a political advantage, and polls at the time showed his job approval rating was on the rise.

Since then, however, the highly transmissible Delta variant has raised the specter of possible new COVID-19 restrictions to stem the spread of the virus, and the wildfires in Northern California have painted a bleak picture of the hot, dry summer that it’s coming.

Still, State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), who served as senior adviser to former Gov. Jerry Brown, said holding the recall elections on Sept. 14 rather than weeks later shortened the window for candidates from replacement enter the fray. No prominent Democrats stepped in, and conservative talk show host Larry Elder currently tops the list for replacement candidates, but with only 18% support in the UC Berkeley poll. The California Republican Party will decide next weekend whether to endorse a Republican candidate in the race.

For months, Newsom’s recall campaign has mounted a well-orchestrated effort to target Republicans hoping to replace him, turning to labor, Democratic Party and civil rights leaders to condemn the recall as the work of pro extremists. -Trump and highlight Newsom’s achievements in office. Vice President Kamala D. Harris, a longtime Newsom ally, recently said she will travel to California to campaign against the recall. On Wednesday morning, the anti-retirement campaign launched a 30 second ad featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) presenting the case against the recall. The campaign said the ad will run in all California markets as its primary television and digital ad for the time being.

On Tuesday, environmental advocates and lawmakers attacked Elder, John Cox, Kevin Faulconer and other candidates for their records on climate change and air quality improvement, as well as accepting tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from the oil industry. Progress made by the Newsom administration in reducing vehicle emissions and embracing the state of renewable energy is at risk, they said. Click said Tuesday’s press conference was one of several that would focus on specific issues.

If “remember” is synonymous with “Republican,” then California’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate should defeat the effort at the polls, or so conventional wisdom goes. But that game plan also demands three things from California Democrats: that they know when the elections are, how to vote in them, and actually fill out and return their ballots.

Voters, however, are creatures of habit, and the recall will be a special election, taking place over a month that is not typically associated with major voting. And with voters focused on other concerns, including wildfires, drought and the Delta variant, the impeachment election is unlikely to be the center of their attention. If Democratic voters think Newsom has no chance of being recalled, marking his ballots may not be high on their to-do lists.

“The complacency rating will be the number one determining factor in the outcome of the recall,” said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist and editor of the nonpartisan election guide California Target Book.

Political scientist Mindy Romero, director of USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy, said Newsom should target Latino, black, and other voters of color who have strongly supported him in the past but, due to the unusual nature of this election recall, it may not be at the same level as the 2020 presidential election.

“There is a base of voters of color, particularly Latino voters by sheer numbers here in California, who could help Newsom tremendously. But he will have to reach out to them and it will be a challenge, ”said Romero. “They will have to explain what this race is about and why it is important.”

The true crisis of the campaign will begin the week of August 16, when the secretary of state begins sending ballots to 22 million California voters. A law signed by Newsom last year requires that ballots be mailed to all registered voters for any election held in 2021, although individuals can choose to waive those ballots and participate in person.

California Labor Federation spokesman Steve Smith said labor advocates plan to have hundreds, if not thousands, of pollsters speaking to voters in key cities that weekend. The door-to-door efforts will be part of what Click characterized as a “mass mobilization” operation, with the campaign and allies reaching out to Democrats to follow up on the return of their ballots. According to Click, all California registered Democrats with a phone number on their voter record will receive a text message informing them of the withdrawal and asking them to vote no “to avoid the Republican seizure of California” along with other digital campaigns.

Newsom’s supporters who oppose the withdrawal have outraged his supporters, giving the governor large campaign coffers to cash in on.

But Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who was part of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project during the 2020 presidential election, said Newsom’s campaign must move quickly to use the cash to its advantage.

“They will have to start spending money now to make partisans of this as a race against Trump,” Madrid said. “The governor also needs to focus and emphasize that even if he doesn’t like me, I’m better than the alternatives here.”

Sragow described what he considered the two nightmare scenarios for the California Democratic Party if Newsom loses retirement. In the first, a fringe candidate far removed from the mainstream wins. While that number would have little chance of later winning a full term in the 2022 gubernatorial election, that person would still be in command of the state that is home to the world’s fifth-largest economy for more than a year.

Sragow’s other nightmare scenario for Democrats? Newsom loses the recall vote “and the candidate who emerges as our next governor is someone who is actually an attractive and competent figure who can then go on to maintain the governorship in the 2022 elections.”

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