Gavin Newsom is victorious in recall election. What are the lessons for Democrats nationally?

In the California recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom crushed the opposition 64 to 36. However, as of Wednesday at noon, votes are still being counted and the final numbers aren’t in.

“I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote. And expressed themselves overwhelmingly by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years,” Newsom said on Tuesday night at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento.

On the ballot’s second question — who should replace Newsom if he were recalled — conservative talk show host Larry Elder got nearly half the vote. 

It was a short night, and media outlets began calling the race not long after the polls closed.

Why was the race so decisive? Exit polls showed that voters stuck to Newsom because of coronavirus fears and how Republican governors in Florida and Texas have handled the pandemic.

Now attention turns to what’s next for Newsom, for the movement to reform the recall process, and for next year’s governor’s race.

“Election 2022 begins today, really. Newsom delivered the blue wave of the size of which California has never seen ... 64-36, that's 28 points. That was bigger than his 2018 blowout,” says Carla Marinucci, reporter for Politico covering California politics. 

Through the recall election, Newsom had two big lessons going forward for Democrats nationally, she points out. 

“One was to … make Trump the villain, to define Trump and Trumpism as the opponent. He did that last night in his speech again. And then the other was to push the COVID response, defining the vaccines, the science and the safety as the agenda. … Newsom said it last night, ‘Yes to science, yes to vaccines.’ And he just got an ‘attaboy’ from President Biden, who put out a statement suggesting that this is something that is going to work in Democrats’ favor around the country.”