How to watch the California recall results

Voters in California will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide if Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, should be recalled. There are 46 candidates challenging Newsom, with conservative talk show host Larry Elder, once seen as a longshot candidate, having emerged as the frontrunner. 

Although Democrats hold a massive advantage in party registration, and no Republican has won a statewide race since 2006, California’s current crises and an energized GOP have caused Newsom and national Democrats to worry.

Democrats nationwide are watching the race closely as a possible bellwether to the 2022 midterm elections, since they hold a slim majority in the House and the Senate is split evenly at 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to San Leandro, California, last week to campaign with Newsom, and President Biden will visit the state on Monday to campaign and tour wildfire damage.    

While campaigning in San Leandro last week, Harris said Republicans know Newsom is a “national leader.”

“What’s happening in Texas, what’s happening in Georgia, what’s happening around our country with these policies that are about attacking women’s rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, worker rights, they think if they can win in California, they can do this anywhere,” Harris said. “We will show them you are not going to get this done.”  

Meanwhile, Los Angeles police are searching for people who threw an egg at Elder and physically attacked an aide on Wednesday. According to CBS Los Angeles, a woman on a bicycle who was wearing a black gorilla mask was seen throwing an egg at Elder, who was not hit. When an aide approached her, she yelled profanities at him and hit the left side of his face with an open hand, according to the LAPD. As Elder and his group continued walking to their vehicle, the aide was then hit in the back of a head by another man, and a third person who approached from the side hit him in the face.

Police say the aide did not suffer any serious injuries and did not require medical treatment. Elder cut his tour of Venice short and was driven away from the scene.   

Ballots were mailed to voters in mid-August. Voters can either mail their ballot or drop it off in-person to a secure ballot drop box, to a voting location, or to their county elections office by 8 p.m. on September 14. One or more early voting locations will be available in all counties for at least four days beginning the Saturday before September 14, and polls will be open throughout the state from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on September 14, according to the California Secretary of State.

There will be two questions on the ballot. The first asks if Newsom should be recalled, while the second question requires voters to choose a candidate from a list of 46 people challenging him. His name does not appear on that list. If more than 50% of voters choose to recall him, the candidate with the most votes on the second question will become governor. Given the large number of candidates running, one could win by only getting 25% or less of the vote. 

A CBS News poll released on August 15 found that Newsom is facing a serious turnout challenge. A high number of Republicans, 78%, say they will definitely vote, while 73% of Democrats say they definitely will. Republican voters are also more motivated to cast ballots than Democrats. The poll found that among registered voters, 54% think Newsom should not be recalled, compared to 46% who think he should be. But among likely voters, the gap narrowed to 52% against the recall compared to 48% who support it.   

But Newsom’s lead has increased since then, with a Berkeley IGS poll released Friday showing the “no” vote leading the “yes” vote 60.1%-38.5% among likely voters.

Newsom’s handling of COVID-19 is both what he is running on and what has fueled the energy behind the recall. California had some of the strictest COVID-19 measures in the country, but also had the highest number of cases. Nearly 80% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the Delta variant is still causing a nationwide spike that hasn’t left California immune.

A dinner Newsom had at an upscale French restaurant in San Francisco in November, as he was urging state residents to stay home and not gather with more than three households, has loomed large over the recall effort. A Los Angeles television station acquired photos of him dining maskless with dozens of people. 

Anne Dunsmore, campaign manager for the pro-recall group Rescue California, told the Associated Press last week that the incident was an “incredible boost” to the recall effort. 

As school districts reopened amid the Delta surge, Elder is campaigning on the claim that science shows it’s not necessary to vaccinate young people or force them to wear masks in school.

The state has also been inundated with heat waves and wildfires. More than 7,000 fires have erupted in California, including the long-burning Dixie Fire, which started nearly 60 days ago and has burned more than 900,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. The Caldor Fire in Northern California, which has burned for almost a month, has threatened Lake Tahoe and burned more than 200,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.   

Musadiq Bidar contributed to this report.