With this in mind, the directors involved in the campaign reported on Newsom’s campaign’s furious efforts to get the race out of the reach of Republicans. The turning point for the campaign came, according to Newsom’s strategists, in the adoption of the aggressive. by the governor Mask and vaccination compulsory – both widespread in California – and in Newsom’s spending avalanche, which portrays his Republican top opponent Larry Elder as the anti-science clone of former President Donald Trump.
“It was about turning the campaign into a referendum on the opposition, not just some kind of dunking booth exercise for the incumbent,” said Sean Clegg, a senior Newsom strategist who oversaw paid media and news for the campaign .
Clegg did not reduce the closing argument of the Newsom campaign to a rejection of the alternative: “A ‘yes’ to this recall means electing a pro-Trump anti-vaccine Republican who will remove the mandates on day one.” It was the presentation of this “easy choice,” said Smith, that marked the “turning point” in the campaign and cemented Newsom’s victory.
Until labor day Newsom had made a choice between him and Elder, the newsom radio host, who was tirelessly tied to Trump, in what began as an up or down vote on his governorship – with a predictable outcome in this steadfast democratic state. For Newsom, Elder’s emergence as the GOP standard-bearer was an unexpected gift that benefited the governor so much that many Republicans resented Elder for turning the race into a traditional – and un-win – electoral election.
Within 50 minutes of the polls closing Tuesday night, Newsom’s recall defeat was announced by four television networks and the Associated Press, ending a race that started as an almost ridiculous longshot, became unexpectedly competitive, and then settled where it began, with Newsom gaining the upper hand in one blow.
Even before the final ballots were cast, Newsom’s advisors were selling his campaign as a template for the Democrats at the national level in the midterm elections. Mask and vaccination regulations, as adopted by Newsom, are positively rated by a majority of Americans. Survey demonstrate. On behalf of the Democrats, Smith said, “There’s one great thing to take away and it’s not shy of Covid. That was the turning point in that campaign when Newsom came out and took bold action on vaccination mandates. … We go out and find out that it’s not just really good politics and brave politics that he would definitely do, it’s actually really good politics. “
If Newsom’s response to the coronavirus ultimately helped him overcome the recall, it was also one of the main reasons he was threatened with discontinuation in the first place. Late last year, citing difficulties collecting signatures during last year’s pandemic, Newsom’s opponents successfully petitioned a judge in Sacramento to extend their signature collection window for an additional 120 days to give them enough time to get a likely doomed signature to turn. Combine efforts into a successful one. That same month Newsom was caught at a dinner party at The French Laundry, a world-famous restaurant in Napa Valley, California, while preventing the state’s residents from gathering for the holidays.
Newsom later called his outing a “bad mistake,” and months later advisors were still struggling to explain it. One advisor just shook his head. Another said, “When you’re the governor of California, you have advance teams, you have people who can figure this shit out for you, and it wasn’t done.”
“It was incredibly harmful. Maybe not in the end. But that was the push the recall organizers needed, ”said the consultant. “Most political news does not reach the consciousness of real people who are not quoted, and this prevailed because it was easy to understand and easy to get upset about regardless of your political affiliation.”
Republicans pounded Newsom for hypocrisy. But even then – even after the recall qualified for the election – the numbers were on his side. This is a state where the Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1, where Newsom defeated Republican opponent John Cox by 3 million votes in 2018, and where Joe Biden, who campaigned for Newsom on Monday in Long Beach, beat Trump almost 30 percentage points two years later.
With the power of the incumbent Newsom Raised over $ 70 millionto overshadow his Republican opponents. And Newsom’s allies have successfully stopped any other prominent Democrat from joining the race. Unlike in 2003, when the then Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger – with Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante also on the ballot – there was no viable alternative for Tuesday’s democratically-minded voters to divert votes from Newsom.
In an interview, Davis said he thought a celebrity might get into the race ahead of California’s filing deadline this year, a wild card he said could “greatly improve” Republicans’ prospects.
“In California, celebrity is the coin of the real,” said Davis. “When Oprah Winfrey is on or ‘The Rock’ [Dwayne Johnson] run, or you have George Clooney running, you have a megastar. … It is the currency of the empire, and it is more important in California than anywhere else. “
But no megastar got on. One celebrity that ran, Caitlyn Jenner, wasn’t a factor. And the other, Elder, was nothing short of a boon to Newsom’s campaign – a pre-made highlight role with his disapproval of gun control and the minimum wage, an ex-fiancée who said he had a gun pointed at her, and his suggestion that that One could argue that reparations were owed to slave owners.
Elder’s entry into the race – and leaping ahead of any other Republican contender – “woke everyone up, and at just the right time,” said a Newsom adviser. “That made it come true.”
Even many Republicans saw the harm Elder was doing. In a race where the GOP was desperate to draw the public’s attention to Newsom, a callback strategist said, “Elder’s entry into the race killed us because it gave Newsom the opportunity to take focus off itself and directing him on the crazy anti-vax guy. “
The strategist said, “You combine that with the Delta Virus explosion and it was a perfect storm on the news every day.”
Despite the advantage Elder could beat, Newsom still had to convince the Democrats that it was worth getting out. As recently as last month, public polls indicated that Democrats were far less motivated than Republicans to vote – and less likely to vote in the all-mail poll. To make matters worse for Newsom’s efforts was the election, which took place in a minor year.
Newsom’s internal polls never showed he was lagging behind. But Clegg said that “the deep enthusiasm gap was real … that’s what worries us most.”
“For us it was always a question of whether we would wake up the blue giant or sleep through this thing,” he said. “The challenge for the campaign from the start was to create a sense of urgency on our part.”
Newsom advisors believed, however, that public polls rating the race within the margin of error wrongly assumed that unenthusiastic Democrats would not vote. The Democrats, Smith said, may not have been excited about voting on a recall election, but “it was more like taking out the trash. They will just do it. “
Still, the attention these public polls drew to the race was invaluable to Newsom and created a sense of urgency among Democratic voters.
Smith said, “Every time something wakes up your base, you want to send them a thank you.”
On Labor Day weekend, Newsom’s internal poll had led him to beat the recall by 10 percentage points or more, according to various consultants. And after that, their numbers barely moved. Before Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden came to the state to campaign with Newsom, the race was over.
Newsom just tried to ramp up the score.
The margin can be important. Before the first results were tallied on Tuesday, Newsom’s staff urged reporters not to secure the first reported victory, believing it would expand if the late postal votes were counted.
Newsom will run for re-election in just over a year, and some of the same Republicans who challenged him on recall may run for re-election, but now in one fell swoop. This includes not only Elder and Cox, the 42nd or most credible candidates for nationwide office in an otherwise thin bank in the early elections. He received 9.8 percent of the vote in the early return.
What Republicans failed to do in the recall, said Rob Stutzman, a GOP political strategist in California, was “to raise someone who can appeal beyond the grassroots. And there is a timetable for that … But you have to come up with a moderate one. “
Stutzman, who advised Schwarzenegger, said Faulconer was “the big hope” for Republicans this year, but he never turned to independents and moderate Democrats after Elder entered the race and captured the party’s pro-Trump base would have.
“Now,” said Stutzmann. “He has to somehow regain the donors’ trust that next year will be different.”
Regarding the prospect of any Republican who stood in the recall next year, he said: “Everyone is worse” after Tuesday’s result.