California GovernorCalifornia Local PoliticsElectionsCalifornia State PoliticsRecall ElectionPolitical Parties

Newsom Prevails in Recall Election

California voters handily rejected a costly, highly- charged recall effort in the state, thereby allowing Governor Gavin Newsom to serve the remainder of his term. With the tabulation of votes still incomplete, Newsom’s lead was substantial enough for the networks to call the race early after polls closed.

Polls conducted in the summer months  projected a closer race, but Newsom’s aggressive approach to combatting the surge in COVID cases and the emergence of a more definitive Republican opponent changed the trajectory. Newsom was also able to massively outraise his opponents.

How did Governor Newsom portray his most notable opponent, Larry Elder?

INSTRUCTORS: click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.


News Articles:

Gavin Newsom holds onto his job as California governor, CNN projects



How Gavin Newsom survived the recall



GOP’s Elder concedes California recall, hints: ‘Stay tuned’

Associated Press


California counties with high COVID-19 vaccination rates helped Newsom cruise to victory in the recall election



News Articles (Analysis)

How big a factor was COVID in the California recall?

Cal Matters


And the winner in the California recall is? None of the above

Cal Matters


Democrats warn of ‘canary in the coal mine’ for Latino voters in California recall

NBC News


Arnold Schwarzenegger says voters were right to retain Newsom, calls GOP field ‘disastrous’

Los Angeles Times



Writing: Describe how the recall election turned into a choice election rather than a referendum of Governor Newsom. What message did Governor Newsom use to change the narrative?  

Debate: Are recall elections an effective way to hold public officials accountable?  

Poll: Should California reform recall elections?  

Short Answer: Does California afford its citizens too much direct democracy with measures such as initiatives and recalls?

Pop Quiz:

What percentage of voter signatures from the last gubernatorial election must be secured to get a recall put on the ballot?

a. 10

b. 12

c. 25.3

d. 50.8

How much did the recall election cost the state of California?

a. Approximately 3 million

b. 30.6 million

c. Almost 300 million

d.1 billion

Who was the only California governor to be recalled?

a. Arnold Schwarzenegger

b. Pete Wilson

c. Jerry Brown

d. Gray Davis

No other major Democrats ran on the replacement ballot to avoid siphoning votes away from Governor Newsom. (T/F)

Larry Elder was previously the 2018 Republican candidate for governor in California. (T/F)

Governor Newsom depended mostly on independents and Republicans to defeat the recall effort. (T/F)

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