California's Democratic governor is expected to comfortably survive the recall election.
Tuesday marks the final day of voting in California's gubernatorial recall election, and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to defeat the GOP-led effort to remove him from office a little more than halfway into his first term in office.
"There's no scenario where we lose," Sean Clegg, a Newsom strategist, said Monday of the governor's chances.
As of Monday, more than 8.7 million ballots had already been returned, thanks to California's robust vote-by-mail system.
Registered Democrats account for nearly 52% of all returned ballots, which according to elections analyst Ryan Matsumoto is on par with the returned ballots at the same point in the 2020 presidential election. President Joe Biden went on to defeat Donald Trump by 29 points.
Republicans forced the recall election against Newsom — only the second gubernatorial recall in California history — citing high taxes, friendliness to undocumented immigrants, and water rationing in the state among their many complaints.
But Newsom's COVID-19 mitigation efforts became one of the driving forces in the race, with Republicans railing against mask requirements and vaccine mandates — and often spreading misinformation about their efficacy — while Newsom and Democrats warned that a recall would worsen the pandemic in the state.
It was Newsom's closing message Monday night as he campaigned with Biden.
"Voting 'no' will be protecting California from Trump Republicans trying to block us from beating this pandemic," Biden said at a rally for Newsom in Long Beach, California, Politico reported.
Biden added, "We don't need politics in this battle against Covid. We need science. We need courage. We need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom."
Meanwhile, Larry Elder — the leading GOP candidate to replace Newsom — has said he'd repeal any COVID-19 vaccine mandates and has falsely stated that young people don't need to be vaccinated, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics says otherwise.
As polls show Newsom overcoming the recall effort, Republicans have fallen back on their strategy to make baseless allegations of voter fraud to explain away legitimate losses, a trend Trump started after his 2020 defeat.
Elder has warned of "shenanigans" in the results, and even preemptively launched a site for his supporters to report voter fraud and push for an investigation into the results — an apparent admission he believes he's going to lose.
"We implore you ... our fellow citizens ... to join us in this fight as you are able, primarily by signing our petition demanding a special session of the California legislature to investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election of Governor Gavin Newsom," Elder's site says.
Polls in California close at 8 p.m. PT.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.