More than an election

Don’t underestimate the importance of the recall election.


Dante Harrold, Staff Writer

All elections matter. No matter how seemingly small or trivial. California is going to have a recall election Sept. 14 in which voters will decide whether to keep Gavin Newsom as governor. If recalled, Newsom will be replaced by one of 46 candidates — and most likely a republican.

The leading candidate to replace Newsom is syndicated republican radio host Larry Elder, a man who thinks there should be no minimum wage, is anti-reproductive rights and would reverse the mask and vaccine mandates Gov. Newsom has implemented to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. Elder is also a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump, even after the man’s failed attempt to overturn the election.

From the perspective of liberals, it may not seem like an important race to pay attention to, and some may even scoff at the idea that Newsom could be recalled.

After all, California is a Democratic-leaning state in which 47% of voters are registered as Democrats. Newsom himself won by 26 points when he ran for governor in 2016 and President Joe Biden won the state in 2020 by 29.2 points.

Some of you may see it as a waste of time to get invested in this recall election because it seems obvious Newsom will not be recalled. 

As a liberal myself, I felt the same way. A republican governor in California in 2021? The very notion seemed laughable and easily dismissible just a few months ago. But then I started to see polls from reputable pollsters showing a much closer race.

Emerson Polling reported: “The latest Emerson College/Nexstar poll of the California gubernatorial recall election finds voters remain split, with 46% in favor and 48% against the recall of Gov. Newsom. Six percent (6%) of likely voters are still undecided.” 

Emerson Polling also reported: “Since earlier in July, when the recall was at 43% in favor and 48% against, the number of undecided voters has fallen 3%, while 3% more have reported that they are in favor of the recall.”

Another example is a poll conducted in July by UC Berkeley, which found Newsom avoiding the recall by two points, well within the standard margin of error. 

It should also be noted that pollsters often overestimate the support for democratic candidates, failing to gain the solid majority heavily implied by polls. 

Some may now realize that, yes, Newsom could actually be recalled by voters and yet still not see the big problem. Some might concede that conservatives may jump in jubilation at having humiliated the liberals on what is supposed to be their home turf but believe that’s the most harm that could be done. After all, democrats hold a supermajority in the state legislature and can easily pass most measures without the governor’s signature. 

But the governor of California does more than sign legislation.

The governor is responsible for replacing a senator from the state in the event of a resignation or an untimely death. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is 88 years old, a year older than Ruth Bader-Ginsberg was when she died. Supreme Court Justice Breyer is 82 years old. If Feinstein dies under a republican governor who can replace her with a republican, that ends whatever chance democrats have of preserving Democracy from the increasingly authoritarian Republican Party. 

All elections matter, so don’t sit this one out. For more information on voting, visit the Experience’s guide to the recall election.