California Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, initially downplayed the significance of an ongoing recall campaign aimed at removing Gov. Gavin Newsome from office.
Now, Democrats at the state and national level appear to be scrambling to help the embattled governor win the upcoming recall election.
Elder leads among GOP challengers
Polling has shown that there is a legitimate chance that Newsom will be recalled and removed by California voters, who could decide to replace him with leading GOP candidate Larry Elder.
According to polling data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Newsom was most recently on pace to win the election by about eight points, but his lead dipped to roughly four points just a week ago. Three weeks ago, his advantage was as slim as two-tenths of a point.
As the Sept. 14 election draws closer, it is possible that Newsom’s lead could once again shrink or disappear completely.
Elder, a right-wing talk radio host, is currently drawing support from about 23.5% of voters polled, nearly 14 points higher than the next closest contender.
According to Politico, Newsom and the Democratic Party appear to be fighting for the support of the state’s Latino voters, which accounts for about 40% of the population and 30% of the electorate.
“We have to also get out the vote”
Despite California’s heavy Democratic majority, Latino voters are said to be split about evenly on the issue of recalling and replacing the governor.
After Pelosi earlier dismissed the chances of Newsom losing the recall election, she came out with a strong message to her state’s voters in a statement last month.
“He’s been a great governor, and I’d like to see this, shall we say, nuisance — but it’s part of what you can do, so we respect that — but we have to also get out the vote,” the House speaker said.
Just days after she made those remarks, the California Globe reported that she redirected her own political operation toward protecting Newsom from being recalled. That effort is said to have included fundraisers, rallies, and other campaign tactics usually reserved for a typical election year.
The clear effort to circle the partisan wagons around Newsom could be seen as a sign that Democrats are now taking the recall effort seriously ahead of an election that might see him ousted from the governor’s mansion.