As California Votes, Cries of 'Rigged' Election Surface

Polls suggest Newsom will survive recall election, though foes on right smell another 'Big Lie'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 6:42 AM CDT
'Perfect Foil' May Save Newsom's Job Tuesday
California Gov. Gavin Newsom smiles while speaking at a rally ahead of the California gubernatorial recall election Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

It's Election Day in California. Voters will decide whether Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom gets to stay in office, and the latest polls suggest his job his safe. An average of polls at FiveThirtyEight has Newsom up 57 to 41 on the should-he-stay or should-he-go question. Not a single poll has his lead under double digits. More:

  • Biden's plea: The president visited California on Monday for a rally on behalf of Newsom, telling California voters, "The eyes of the nation are on you," per USA Today. Biden called conservative radio host Larry Elder, who has emerged as the GOP frontrunner, a "clone of Trump" and said it would be disastrous for the state and the nation if he were elected.
  • The shift: The polls had been much tighter before Elder became the frontrunner among dozens of challengers. An analysis by Maeve Reston at CNN says this was a gift to Newsom because it gave him a "perfect foil." Elder opposes Newsom's mask and vaccine mandates, and his rise seems to have energized Democratic voters.

  • Big Lie, II: Figures on the right already are raising unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California, echoing former President Trump's allegations of a "Big Lie" in the 2020 outcome, reports Sara Fischer of Axios. Trump's Save America PAC called the election "rigged" in an email to supporters Monday, adding that "millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam." Google searches for "voter fraud" in the state increased five-fold in the last week.
  • Political impact: If the polls are correct, Andrew Romano of Yahoo News suggests that the politics of COVID may be tipping in Democrats' favor. "No Republican running for governor could possibly have defeated Gavin Newsom in the recall election, but COVID could have,” says Dan Schnur, a former spokesman for GOP Gov. Pete Wilson. Most Californians now approve of his handling of the virus. If Newsom wins, expect other Democratic candidate to borrow Newsom's "playbook."
  • Rarity: This is only the fourth gubernatorial recall election in the nation's history, notes ABC News. Only one governor has been recalled in the last century, though that just happened to be in California when Arnold Schwarzenneger replaced Gray Davis in 2003.
(More Gavin Newsom stories.)

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