Governor Gavin Newsom handily defeated an attempt to boot him from office Tuesday. As of Wednesday evening, tallies from the Secretary of State’s Office showed 63.8% of voters opposing the recall. If that holds, Newsom will have outperformed his 2018 victory in which he garnered 61.9% of the vote.
“I am humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Americans who exercised their fundamental right to vote and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that's defined our politics in this country,” Newsom said in a speech Tuesday night.
Exit polls showed the pandemic was a top priority for voters. Over two-thirds of recall voters believe the state’s COVID-19 situation is improving or staying the same. The majority are pro-vaccination and support mask mandates. That wasn’t exactly a winning formula for Newsom’s top challenger, Larry Elder, who promised to do away with all public health restrictions established by the governor so far.
It's tempting to imagine how well Newsom would have performed if a candidate like Kevin Faulconer had been leading the challengers. The former San Diego mayor tweeted this on Tuesday:
"I want to thank my supporters. You all know me. I’ve never been one to be part of the circus. I’ve been the one who comes in to end the circus. That’s just who I am. California’s problems aren’t going away, and I’m proud that we ran a campaign based on experience and solutions.The path to victory in California is to win by addition — bringing folks together across the spectrum. This race became dominated by national, partisan politics. I trust the democratic process and know Californians deserve a governor focused on solving California’s problems."