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And the winner in the California recall is? None of the above

Gov. Gavin Newsom gives a speech following his projected victory in the recall election at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento on Sept. 14, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters.

For weeks leading up to Election Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders begged Californians to "just say no" to the recall. Rather than pore over the 46 names on the ballot to pick a promising — or for Newsom supporters, at least tolerable — back-up candidate in case the recall succeeded, the "no" campaign urged voters to skip the second question entirely.

Californians took Newsom's advice — by the millions.

Of the nearly 10.6 million ballots counted so far, 4.7 million, or 44.4%, did not include a choice for the replacement candidate. That's compared to the 2.8 million votes, or 26%, that went for the flesh-and-blood frontrunner Larry Elder. If "nobody" were a candidate, he or she would be crushing the competition.

Ballots are still being tallied, but at last count the recall attempt against Newsom is going down in flames by a historic 27 percentage points. The secretary of state's office reported that about 2.5 million remain to be counted as of Sept. 17. That would make the overall voter turnout about 59%, compared to 64% for the regular gubernatorial election in 2018.

Newsom and his political brain trust were criticized, even by some Democrats, for refusing to engage with the ballot's second question. The logic of the strategy: Don't even humor the idea that another candidate would be acceptable, lest it convinces some voters on the fence that a "yes" vote wouldn't result in sheer disaster. As some commentators noted at the time, it was a risky and potentially undemocratic tactic.

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But it's one that seems to have paid off handsomely.

The two-question structure of California's recall ballot was the subject of endless confusion among voters. Now it's providing new ways to be perplexed by — or perhaps to purposefully misinterpret — the election results.

Elder has already touted his 47% showing among voters who picked a replacement candidate as evidence of his strength as a possible 2022 candidate and to suggest that polls understated his popularity. In a tweet Thursday, he juxtaposed the reported election night results to an Emerson College poll that put the candidate at a mere 23%.

In fact, the number Elder highlighted was his share of the vote only among ballots marked with a replacement candidate. Missing from his calculation: The 4 million-plus ballots without a selected candidate at all.

A historical note: In the successful 2003 recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, only about 756,000 of 9 million voters, or 8%, left question two blank.

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And in case it wasn't obvious that it was mostly Democrats who left question two blank, there is an indisputable correlation in counties with the largest share of Democratic voters.

For the many "no" on recall voters who didn't want to surrender their influence on a potential replacement candidate, there were no obvious choices. Kevin Paffrath was the most prominent Democrat on the ballot, but his mish-mash of policy positions and lack of experience weren't every party member's cup of tea.

Other liberals held their nose and backed former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, as suggested by the Los Angeles Times editorial board, who called the relatively moderate Republican the "least terrible" option.

Still, other "no" voters did their own research, with a surprising number gravitating to the little-known campaign of San Diego physician and attorney Brandon Ross. Despite his low name ID, at last count, Ross, a Democrat, was beating out Republican hopefuls John Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley.

Paffrath, Faulconer and Ross all tended to fare best in those corners of the state that rejected the recall most overwhelmingly. But alas, none could hold a candle to this year's electoral juggernaut — no one at all.

Email Ben Christopher at [email protected]

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics. Read more state news from CalMatters here.

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And the winner in the California recall is? None of the above

by / CalMatters

Uploaded: Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 3:23 pm

For weeks leading up to Election Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders begged Californians to "just say no" to the recall. Rather than pore over the 46 names on the ballot to pick a promising — or for Newsom supporters, at least tolerable — back-up candidate in case the recall succeeded, the "no" campaign urged voters to skip the second question entirely.

Californians took Newsom's advice — by the millions.

Of the nearly 10.6 million ballots counted so far, 4.7 million, or 44.4%, did not include a choice for the replacement candidate. That's compared to the 2.8 million votes, or 26%, that went for the flesh-and-blood frontrunner Larry Elder. If "nobody" were a candidate, he or she would be crushing the competition.

Ballots are still being tallied, but at last count the recall attempt against Newsom is going down in flames by a historic 27 percentage points. The secretary of state's office reported that about 2.5 million remain to be counted as of Sept. 17. That would make the overall voter turnout about 59%, compared to 64% for the regular gubernatorial election in 2018.

Newsom and his political brain trust were criticized, even by some Democrats, for refusing to engage with the ballot's second question. The logic of the strategy: Don't even humor the idea that another candidate would be acceptable, lest it convinces some voters on the fence that a "yes" vote wouldn't result in sheer disaster. As some commentators noted at the time, it was a risky and potentially undemocratic tactic.

But it's one that seems to have paid off handsomely.

The two-question structure of California's recall ballot was the subject of endless confusion among voters. Now it's providing new ways to be perplexed by — or perhaps to purposefully misinterpret — the election results.

Elder has already touted his 47% showing among voters who picked a replacement candidate as evidence of his strength as a possible 2022 candidate and to suggest that polls understated his popularity. In a tweet Thursday, he juxtaposed the reported election night results to an Emerson College poll that put the candidate at a mere 23%.

In fact, the number Elder highlighted was his share of the vote only among ballots marked with a replacement candidate. Missing from his calculation: The 4 million-plus ballots without a selected candidate at all.

A historical note: In the successful 2003 recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, only about 756,000 of 9 million voters, or 8%, left question two blank.

And in case it wasn't obvious that it was mostly Democrats who left question two blank, there is an indisputable correlation in counties with the largest share of Democratic voters.

For the many "no" on recall voters who didn't want to surrender their influence on a potential replacement candidate, there were no obvious choices. Kevin Paffrath was the most prominent Democrat on the ballot, but his mish-mash of policy positions and lack of experience weren't every party member's cup of tea.

Other liberals held their nose and backed former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, as suggested by the Los Angeles Times editorial board, who called the relatively moderate Republican the "least terrible" option.

Still, other "no" voters did their own research, with a surprising number gravitating to the little-known campaign of San Diego physician and attorney Brandon Ross. Despite his low name ID, at last count, Ross, a Democrat, was beating out Republican hopefuls John Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley.

Paffrath, Faulconer and Ross all tended to fare best in those corners of the state that rejected the recall most overwhelmingly. But alas, none could hold a candle to this year's electoral juggernaut — no one at all.

Email Ben Christopher at [email protected]

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics.

Comments

jmb&cjp
Registered user
Mission Park
on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm
jmb&cjp, Mission Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm

Why is your coverage of Gov. Gavin Newsom landslide victory in the September recall election all about the right-wing radio commentator and other second-rate GOP pols who fared so poorly in the race? Larry Elder, whose name somehow appears in your story's headline, and the election results were definitely not "none of the above."

The real news was an affirmation of Newsom's leadership, especially concerning his handling of the economy, which remained health despite the pandemic. He supported the state's new gig making it harder for companies to short change their workers by classifying them as independent contractors.

He stood solidly on the side of science and public health experts on mandated mask use, social distancing and his potent vaccination campaign. HIs actions assured that health care workers and their patients would have access to masks, shields and ventilators.

He enacted rent control and a eviction moratorium to save thousands of Californians from homelessness. He expanded early childhood education and free school meals for all.

He defended environmental rules against the Trump administration, including bans on fracking and the use of neurotoxin chlorpyrifos pesticide on farmers' fields. He set deadlines for ending oil extraction and the sale of gas-powered cars.

And he has established reasonable limits on the use of force to make it more difficult for police to justify killing civilians.

You may not like everything the Gov. Newsom has done, and he has made mistakes and unfortunately policy decisions. But, he 62 percent of the voters who said "no" to his recall shouted out loudly and clearly that they believe he has served the state well in his 2-1/2 years as governor.

I'm sorry The Pleasanton Weekly missed that point.

Jim Brice, Pleasanton


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 3:29 pm

The Pleasanton Weekly and it's staff did not write this article.


MichaelB
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:46 pm
MichaelB, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:46 pm

"He defended environmental rules against the Trump administration, including bans on fracking and the use of neurotoxin chlorpyrifos pesticide on farmers' fields. He set deadlines for ending oil extraction and the sale of gas-powered cars."


Some people have a strange idea of what "leadership" is, how the average person in this state has to live/work, don't understand the costs associated with new regulations, or will apparently vote for anyone with a "D" after their name regardless of results.

California does not generate enough electricity because of mandatory renewable requirements and the electric car mandates Newsom wants will just make the problem much worse. Add to that cities/localities wanting to get rid of natural gas in new homes/existing buildings to require electric only. I guess gasoline prices just are not high enough yet - so we need to further restrict domestic oil production too. Guess who gets hurt most by higher gas prices? The working/middle class (the ones without electric cars). The same group that Democrats claim to "care about" or "want to help".

When we don't have enough energy for lighting/cooling/heating/driving/etc., expect the so called "progressives" to lecture everyone else that they just need "do without" and/or "use less" because it's "for the planet". It would have nothing to do with their authoritarian and shortsighted "save the world" policies that make no economic sense.


KG
Registered user
California Reflections
on Sep 25, 2021 at 12:37 pm
KG, California Reflections
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 12:37 pm

MichaelB,

Leadership is setting a vision of going off awful fossil fuels by 2030 and then providing funding and programs to help us get there or get close. Lack of leadership is to continue as is, subsidizing fossil fuel companies, watching the world get destroyed by global warming. That is what you and Republicans want.

The Bay Area clean energy industry alone has created thousands of jobs, Tesla, Lucid, QuantunScape, ….. dozens of clean energy companies creating thousands of jobs.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 25, 2021 at 3:28 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 3:28 pm

Newsom won this recall. The majority of voters in California is democrats. The national democratic party rules California.

The give-A-ways will continue in earnest.

Immediately following this election, with the Biden administration in power. Jerry Gidner Director, Bureau of Trust Administration for Indian Reservation Land Owners sent letters to the Indian Reservation Land Owners with detailed instructions on how to apply for child tax credits.

The vast majority of Reservation Land Owners do not qualify for child tax credits. The "children" are mostly grown adults. the letter is an attempt to encourage false claims.

The democratic socialists are stumbling all each other to give away tax payer dollars.


MichaelB
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 25, 2021 at 4:05 pm
MichaelB, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 4:05 pm

"Leadership is setting a vision of going off awful fossil fuels by 2030 and then providing funding and programs to help us get there or get close. Lack of leadership is to continue as is, subsidizing fossil fuel companies, watching the world get destroyed by global warming. That is what you and Republicans want."


The world is not going to "get destroyed", fossil fuels drive growth/prosperity/employment in this nation, other nations will not cripple their own economies to "save the planet", and there is nothing "visionary" about Newsom lecturing residents not to run air conditioners/appliances in the afternoons on summer days. Some people still can't figure out (and never will) that when the sun is not shining/wind is not blowing, there is NO clean energy being produced.


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