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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Newsom. COVID, and the Recall

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections. The biggest off-off-year election is the CA recall. 

At Politico, Jeremy White, Carla Marinucci, and Camryn Dadey report that Newsom is zeroing in on Larry Elder and other GOP candidates for promising to reverse  COVID mandates.
A new advertisement from Team Newsom sharpens that contrast, calling the recall a “matter of life and death” and likening a “no” vote to efforts to “stop the spread.” The spot dropped on the day Newsom told a get-out-the-vote event in San Jose that backsliding on Covid orders under a Governor Elder would undercut a broader reopening effort: “How is it possible we get our kids safely back into school for in-person instruction and get our economy running again unless we use some common sense?”

A BIG SHIFT: All of this is a tonal shift from the note of Covid contrition Newsom sounded during his last State of the State speech, an event that felt as much like an informal campaign kickoff. The governor defended his record while conceding that “our progress hasn’t always felt fast enough” and “I’ve made mistakes.” In the months since, Newsom has reopened the economy to great fanfare — and then clamped down on it again as Delta cases proliferated. And all that Covid whiplash risks alienating a weary electorate, even if his Democratic allies have argued whenever possible that Newsom has done an admirable job under trying circumstances.

Recent polling suggests voters are with Newsom on this. A plurality of likely voters told the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies in late July that Newsom had done an excellent or good job on the pandemic rather than a poor job. CBS News this week found 60-40 approval for Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, similar to the 61-37 level The Public Policy Institute of California found back in May. But in all cases, Republican or conservative voters have net negative views. So once again, we find ourselves repeating that this election will come down to turnout: namely, whether Newsom can rally enough left-leaning voters who appreciate his coronavirus efforts to overcome fervent Republican opposition.