Written by Samir Chowdhary-Fitton and Elias Chane
On Tuesday, September 14th, California voters participated in the recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom, and prior to the recall, M-A students were polled on their views on the election. Overall, M-A students’ views matched up with the results of the election, with strong support for keeping Newsom in office, and lesser support for the frontrunners, Elder, Faulconer, and Paffrath.
On the ballot were two questions. The first is a simple yes or no question, with yes in favor of removing Newsom from office, and no against it. The second question asked voters to pick one from a list of 46 candidates with a variety of political leanings and backgrounds. While the “Stop the Republican Recall,” campaign asked those who voted “No” to skip the candidate section, many Californians likely picked a candidate from the list even if they supported Newsom, so that the candidate that they dislike the least would have the best shot at succeeding Newsom had he been recalled. This means that if the recall effort had succeeded, the next voted candidate would have become governor even with a minority of the vote. As of September 15th, that candidate is Larry Elder.
As of now, with around 70% of the votes in, 63.9% of voters voted no, and as a whole M-A students reflected this, with 52% rejecting the recall effort. 24.4% said that they would vote yes, and 17.1% saying that they would not vote. However, only 6.5% of the students polled said that they strongly approve of Newsom, with the majority, 30.1%, saying that they somewhat approve. This indicates that although M-A students don’t necessarily approve of all of Newsom’s decisions as governor, they still prefer him over any opposition. When it comes to the candidate list, African American Republican Talk show host Larry Elder is currently in the lead, followed by Democrat Kevin Paffrath, and Republicans Kevin Faulconer, Kevin Kiley, and John Cox. These results are similar to that of M-A, with Paffrath leading with 10.6%, and Elder and Faulconer both trailing with 4.1%. However, M-A students overall were undecided on their preferred replacement for Newsom, with the vast majority, 56.9%, stating that they do not know who they would vote for. For more information on the M-A polling results click here.
The recall aimed to unseat current California governor Gavin Newsom, who led the state through the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. While he was praised for his early actions, many quickly grew tired of things like mask mandates, school closures, and business closures, especially among those who opposed harsh lockdowns from the outset. Newsom’s scandal at the French Laundry, a fancy Napa restaurant where he was seen eating and conversing with friends without a mask in violation of state COVID mandates, lowered his reputation with even more Californians. It was in these conditions that an earlier recall attempt was able to gain the necessary signatures to hold the recall election, after a judge determined that it would be granted an additional four months due to the pandemic disrupting efforts. With the combination of anti-Newsom sentiment and dislike of his handling of the pandemic, the recall effort gained far more support, and posed a threat to Governor Newsom even in a state that voted for Joe Biden by 29 points. However, the recall effort ultimately failed as Newsom won with 63.9% of the vote.