California could be headed for very different recall than the last one


WASHINGTON — We are now exactly one month away from the deadline for supporters to submit the nearly 1.5 million valid signatures to begin the process of recalling California Gov. Gavin Newsom — and holding a referendum on the state’s progressive governance. (Supporters say they already have that number, but the signatures still have to be verified first.)

But there is one significant difference between this likely recall and the one that took down Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (and installed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger) in 2003: California is so much more blue — and non-white — than it was two decades ago.

Just look at these numbers:

In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush in California by more than 10 points, 53 percent to 42 percent.

In 2020? Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in California by almost 30 points (!!!), 63 percent to 34 percent.

In his gubernatorial victory in 2002, Gray Davis won by just 5 points, 47 percent to 42 percent.

But Gavin Newsom’s win in 2018? He defeated his GOP opponent by 24 points, 62 percent to 38 percent.

Ultimately, Gray Davis got recalled in 2003 by a 55 percent-to-45 percent margin — with that 55 percent not too far off from the 53 percent of California voters who did not vote for him the year before.

But if Newsom is going to recalled, it’s going to take a lot more than the 38 percent of California voters who didn’t vote for him in 2018 — recall supporters will need to overperform that by at least 12 points to get a majority in recalling the governor.

It’s one thing for recall supporters to get 1.5 million signatures in a state of nearly 40 million residents.

It’s another for Democrats to lose a state that the party has been winning by 20 to 30 points.

Democratic governance is on the line, too

But the recall effort is about more than changing electoral margins and demographics.

It’s about the future of Democratic and progressive governance.

The state of Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom, of course, is also the state of Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris.

And while recall supporters say their biggest beef with Newsom is his handling of the pandemic, so much more — taxes, housing, transportation, even how San Francisco is naming its schools — appears to be on the line.

So there’s maybe a bigger story going on California than whether or not Gavin Newsom can survive a recall election.

It’s whether Democrats can govern in a state where they have most (if not all) of the political power.

Highlights of VP Harris’ “Today” interview

Speaking of Kamala Harris, here were some of the highlights of her interview on “Today” this morning:

On vaccines: “We have a vaccine now, and that is great. But we need to get it in the arms of all Americans. And as the president said last night, we expect that that will be done in terms of having the available supply by the end of July.”

On reopening schools: “So our goal is that, as many K-8 schools as possible will reopen within the first 100 days. Our goal is that it will be five days a week. And so we have to work to achieve that goal.”

On the Covid-19 relief legislation: “A big problem requires a big solution.”

On whether Trump should be criminally charged: “I haven’t reviewed the case through the lens of being a prosecutor. I’m reviewing the case of COVID in America through the lens of being the vice president of America.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

At least 20: The number of deaths reported nationwide linked to the recent winter storm and brutal cold.

Nearly 3 million: The number of people without power in Texas, as of publication time.

3,000: The estimated number of sticks of dynamite expected to be used for the demolition of the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City this morning.

19.6 percentage points: Mitch McConnell’s margin of victory over Democrat Amy McGrath in 2020. (Trump said in a statement yesterday that McConnell “would have lost badly” without his support.)

27,880,005: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 72,596 more than yesterday morning.)

490,176: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,812 more than yesterday morning.)

64,533: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States.

337.3 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

55,220,364: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

15,015,434: People fully vaccinated in the U.S.

71: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

Promises made, promises kept?

In his first town hall as president, Joe Biden laid out promises, plus the dates that those promises will be fulfilled.

Vaccines available for all Americans (600 million doses) — End of July.

K-8 schools open for in-person learning five days a week — Majority within his first 100 days (End of April).

A Biden-backed immigration plan — Rollout by the end of this week.

And one big promise from another Democratic candidate that Biden will not keep is cancelling $50,000 of student debt.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., made cancelling student debt central to her 2020 campaign and has kept pushing for it since Biden won the election.

When asked what Biden would do to cancel $50,000 in student debt last night, the president bluntly said, “I will not make that happen.”

Biden has expressed support for cancelling $10,000 in federal student debt instead.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The recent storm and Texas power crisis is highlighting the challenges of a clean energy future.

A Texas mayor has resigned after telling residents in his town to fend for themselves.

A Democratic congressman and the NAACP have filed a lawsuit against Trump and former lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the Capitol riot.

The New York Times reports on what was going on behind the scenes with Trump’s impeachment legal team.

Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, are working on a proposal that would link a minimum wage hike to immigration enforcement.

Biden is extending the foreclosure moratorium and mortgage forbearance through June.

What was up with Kamala Harris’s claim that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” on vaccine administration? The Washington Post gives her two Pinocchios.

Now George Conway says he’s in favor of shutting down the Lincoln Project.

Milwaukee Bucks exec Alex Lasry is in for Wisconsin Senate.

CORRECTION (Feb. 17, 2021, 11:05 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the results of the 2000 presidential election in California. Democrat Al Gore won the state over Republican George W. Bush by more than 10 points, not by less than 1 point.


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