Final California recall count shows Newsom with tally identical to 2018

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to union workers and volunteers on election day
Getty Images

California elections officials have tallied the final ballots in the recall election that targeted Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), affirming voters’ decision to keep the first-term Democrat in office by a wide margin.

With no more ballots left to count, elections officials and analysts might be forgiven if they feel a sense of deja vu: 61.9 percent of voters voted against recalling Newsom from office, exactly the same share of the vote as Newsom won when he claimed office in 2018.

The share of those who voted for the recall, 38.1 percent, mirrored the share claimed three years ago by businessman John Cox, Newsom’s Republican rival.

Days before the recall election, Joshua Spivak, a recall elections expert and senior fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute at Wagner College in New York, told The Hill that he expected the margin to be relatively close to the 2018 gubernatorial contest that sent Newsom to the governor’s mansion. After all, results from recent recall elections had closely mirrored the previous elections involving the candidate being recalled.

In 2012, 53.1 percent of Wisconsin voters backed then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) in a recall election over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). Two years earlier, Walker had scored 52.3 percent of the vote against the same opponent.

In 2003, 44.6 percent of voters voted to keep California Gov. Gray Davis (D) in office in a recall election that forced him out. The prior year, Davis had won reelection with just 47.3 percent of the vote.

And in 1921, the first time a recall election targeted a sitting governor, 50.9 percent of North Dakota voters cast a ballot for Ragnvald Nestos (R), while 49.1 percent favored keeping Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) on for the rest of his term. The year before, Frazier had beaten a Democratic opponent by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin, hardly a sea change in a a small state where only about 220,000 people cast ballots.

The final election results in California, which will be certified Friday, are likely to have at least one substantial impact on the state moving forward: Most political observers in the state believe Newsom is now on path to coast to a second term just over a year from now, when he faces reelection.

The tallies show that conservative radio host Larry Elder (R) led the field of potential replacements with 48.5 percent of the vote, or about 3.56 million ballots cast — just over a quarter of the total ballots cast on the recall question itself. 

Two others who had been seen as potential challengers to Newsom next year, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) and Cox, the 2018 nominee, finished in third and fifth place, respectively, managing just a fraction of Elder’s vote. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R) finished in sixth place, at just 3.5 percent.

Tags California Gavin Newsom Kevin Faulconer Larry Elder

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video