Few Democrats were surprised to see Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom crush a Republican-led recall campaign in bright blue California, but they were happy with the way he did it.
By turning the race into a referendum on former President Donald Trump and his supporters’ “extreme” resistance to coronavirus precautions, Newsom has proposed a formula for survival that could translate into dozens of races in the mid-election. term of next year, Democrats said. A healthy turnout, spurred by some late anxiety, showed Democrats remain keen to vote against the former president, even when he’s not on the ballot.
California voters have rejected the “Republican brand of insurgency and pandemic denial,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Republicans said they saw nothing to fear in the California results. Losing badly in a liberal stronghold isn’t much of a prediction of the party’s performance on battlefields like Florida or Georgia, they said. They claim they were grappling with a flawed candidate – radio host Larry Elder, the Republican frontrunner who has repeatedly cited his support for Trump in a state the former president has lost by 30 percentage points and did little to appeal to moderate voters in vibrant suburbs.
But President Joe Biden and his party won’t have it as easy as Newsom next year, said Ron Nehring, former Chairman of the California Republican Party who has harshly criticized Elder and worked for one of his rivals. .
“Gavin Newsom had an opponent he was able to define in the minds of a sufficient number of swing voters,” he said. “Number 1, Biden himself will not be on the ballot and number 2, he has no singular opponent.”
On Wednesday, Biden embraced Newsom’s victory and his message. “This vote is a resounding victory for the approach he and I share to defeat the pandemic: strict vaccine requirements, strong measures to reopen schools safely, and solid plans to distribute real medicine – and not bogus treatments – to help those who get sick, “Biden said in a statement.
But there will be better test cases ahead of how these messages play with voters. In November, Virginia voters will choose between Democrat Terry McAuliffe, former governor and longtime Democratic member, and GOP businessman Glenn Youngkin. McAuliffe hammered Youngkin as too extreme for a state that has become more diverse, more suburban, and more democratic in years.
California has similar demographic trends at play. In Orange County, a longtime GOP stronghold, racial and ethnic diversity and the growing disgust that wealthy and educated voters have shown for Trump has opened the door for Democrats. county – although the GOP reclaimed two House seats there last year.
The recall failed in Orange County by 5 percentage points on Wednesday, although the vote count in California continues for weeks and final margins may change. Newsom and his Republican opponent John Cox were essentially tied in the county in 2018.
Even the incomplete results supported Democrats.
“We’re pretty excited about California, and it’s not because we thought we were going to lose it – it’s because the margin is better than expected and it shows that the Republican message is failing badly in swing neighborhoods.” , said Mahoney.
Still, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from a single election in a state so liberal that Democrats held every office in state, even during the Republican wave years of 2010 and 2014.
“It’s like we’re bragging about beating a recall in Alabama,” joked Matt Gorman, a former National Republican Congressional Committee strategist.
Gorman said Democrats would only gain some advantage by demonizing Republican candidates and trying to tie them to Trump. “Biden is at the center” of the midterms, Gorman said, noting how Republicans tried unsuccessfully to tie Congressional Democrats to Nancy Pelosi in 2018, when she was only minority leader and not in control. not the House of Representatives. “It becomes less effective once they are out of power.”
“If inflation is high, gas prices are high, and COVID skyrockets, it will be much more difficult” for Democrats to talk about Trump and Republican extremism in 2022, Gorman said.
It will also be difficult for Republicans not to talk about Trump. The GOP primaries for Senate seats in Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania are already set to be a competition for Trump’s base. House candidates are calling for Trump’s approval. The former president did not hesitate to anoint his favorites.
Democrats are sure to use this against these candidates when they face a general election.
“I think a sad reality of the modern GOP is that there will be a lot of Larry Elders on the ballot in 2022 because they are going to win the Republican primaries,” said Addisu Demissie, a campaign strategist for Newsom. . “When the alternative is extreme, you represent not only your base, but the community.”
The Independent Gt