When will we know the result?The California recall election has been held primarily by mail, with election offices in California sending all registered voters a recall ballot that they can mail back or return to a ballot drop box or voting site. Polls for in-person voters in California closed at 8 p.m. PST and 11 p.m. EST, but because mail ballots take a little longer to process and tabulate, Decision Desk HQ and other outlets may not be able to project an outcome for a few days.
How the recall works and what’s at stake:California is one of 19 states where voters unhappy with the direction of their state can kick their leaders to the curb. Californians last recalled a governor in 2003, when voters booted former Gov. Gray Davis out of office in favor of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Issues including an energy crisis and rolling blackouts, a controversial car tax, and a sluggish economy following the dot-com bust, dominated that election. This time around, Republican activists moved to recall Newsom mainly over their disapproval of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and frustration with the administration’s COVID-19 restrictions. Other issues defining the recall include the increasing unaffordability of housing fueling homelessness in the state and extreme weather events like wildfires. Californians are faced with two questions on the ballot: whether or not to recall Newsom (a simple yes or no), and if so, who to replace him with. The first question must receive a simple “yes” majority for Newsom to get the boot, but on the second question, the winner to replace him could win with just a plurality and not a majority of the vote.
There are 46 candidates in the running to replace Newsom if he’s recalled, down from the 135 who ran to replace Davis in 2003.
The leading GOP contender to replace Newsom is talk show host Larry Elder, who has a checkered personal past and long history of making controversial comments on the air. He leads other replacement candidates by double-digits in FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages.
Other Republicans running in the recall include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox. Neither the California Republican Party nor national Republicans, however, have attempted to consolidate support around a single candidate.
Reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, and a host of other minor candidates are also running in the recall.
Unlike in 2003, when Davis’ lieutenant governor ran on the second ballot as an “insurance policy,” Democrats have chosen not to put up a replacement candidate of their own as a fallback, instead urging their supporters to vote “no” on question one and leave question two blank.
The latest polls indicate Newsom is in a strong position to survive the recall, with FiveThirtyEight’s polling average showing 57% support for “no” on the recall and 41.5% support for “yes” as of Tuesday.
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