California voters don’t remember

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The reminder-who-was not can be summed up in numbers. Eighteen months, $ 276 million from taxpayers, a last minute visit from President Biden. Despite these impressive numbers, the California recall election was decided in less than thirty minutes. Additionally, Newsom got around 63.7% of the vote, a figure higher than the 61.9% with which he initially won the post in 2018, which at the time was a record for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate. in the history of California.

In short, California handed Newsom a decisive victory and a nominal mandate from the people. But 2022 is an election year, and a second term will prove to be an entirely different ball game, with national implications. Was this election the model for the Democrats’ victory in 2022 in districts and states? Will the coalition of Labor, Latino voters and moderate independents remain loyal to the Democratic base? The jury is out, but Congress and the President are doing all they can to play with these constituencies and are working aggressively to frame the debate around the issues they care about: job security, infrastructure. , immigration reform. Understandably, every district and state is different, but there seems to be a tendency for higher turnout, especially with the main Democratic constituencies. However, it is not that simple; maybe the GOP can pull it off, like in 2020 when it won four congressional seats in Blue California, in part by presenting a more ethnically diverse and ideologically expansive crop of candidates.

It is no exaggeration to think that some of those who voted no on the recall did so only to preserve political stability, given the quality of the other options. The Republicans’ favorite candidate was, after all, Larry Elder, a Trump-style radio host with no political background. The field also included Angelyne, the self-proclaimed billboard icon, reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, and former California Poultry Federation board member Leo Zacky. Meanwhile, the most polled Democratic alternative to Newsom was financial youtuber Kevin Paffrath. Barely the top talent you’d expect to see vying for the leadership of the nation’s most populous state and the world’s fifth-largest economy. Competition in 2022, on the other hand, has the potential to be serious. Newsom will face renewed Republican challengers, but in a blue majority state the real challenge will come from fellow Democrats.

Competition in 2022, on the other hand, has the potential to be serious. Newsom will face renewed Republican challengers, but in a blue majority state the real challenge will come from fellow Democrats.

Newsom has about a year to campaign, and he knows it. If his victory speech has anything to do with it, he intends to rely on a combination of pandemic recovery, identity politics and fair politics to distinguish what remains of his tenure:

“We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to the end of this pandemic, we said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of false fraud or voter suppression, we have says yes to a woman’s basic constitutional right to decide for herself what she does for her body. We said yes to diversity, we said yes to inclusion.

The day after the recall election, Newsom signed a trio of bills aimed at tackling the housing crisis, including SB 9, which abolished most of the state’s single-family zoning. On the soft power side, he issued a proclamation renaming Hispanic Heritage Month to Latin Heritage Month, a nod to Latin American communities who have long criticized the use of the old term because it technically includes the white Spaniards. If he continues in this vein, it will certainly pay off with the younger progressive crowd, including communities of color, which are crucial to victory in a majority-minority state.

The question is whether those same demographic groups will actually vote in 2022. Only 7.7 million voters, or about 35% of California’s electorate, voted in this month’s recall election. The turnout for governor elections is hardly better.

A long-standing criticism of the Democratic Party is its neglect of communities of color, confident in their support for no other reason than because the escalation of racism in the GOP gives them no other choice. But those same communities could very well become disillusioned and simply not vote, or choose a third party. A generation ago, it might have been good for politicians to visit a taco stand or a black church for a quick speech and some photos. Today, they must demonstrate a real commitment to economic inclusion, police and criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, education and more.

Moreover, populations are not a monolith, as the decline in Latino support for Newsom clearly illustrates between 2018 and 2021. Minority business owners number 1.6 million, or nearly half of small businesses. state enterprises, and they will hardly support more stringent government regulations. Christianity also plays a role in conservative electoral trends among communities of color, which means abortion remains a hot issue. If Newsom chooses to continue on his current progressive path, he will face a possible centrist Democratic challenger. If he chooses to soften his approach to suit more moderate tastes, then he will face an opponent who leans more to the left.

The 2022 election will not be all about which faction has the most support; it will be a question of which side can get more participation. And for now, it looks like Newsom intends to bet on the Progressive Bloc. It remains to be seen what he can do before next November.


Seth Jacobson is the founder and director of JCI Worldwide, a Los Angeles-based communications and research company. He spent several years in the Carter and Clinton administrations in positions focused on economic development, foreign policy and media relations. He is a frequent lecturer in politics and public affairs at Pepperdine University and UCLA.

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