The results of the recall vote that ended Tuesday will also influence next year’s midterm elections in the United States, experts say.
Californians are deciding whether to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office or move in a more conservative direction, after a campaign that exposed divisions in America’s most populous state.
Newsom was leading the polls, but he was still aggressively campaigning and bringing in national Democratic figures to urge voters to reject the recall vote, which ends Tuesday.
It received a final push late Monday from US President Joe Biden, who warned that the contest could shape the country’s direction on the COVID-19 pandemic, reproductive rights, and the battle to curb the climate change.
The results are also likely to influence the 2022 midterm elections in the United States, when control of Congress will again be at stake. The party that controls the White House historically loses seats in midterm elections.
Biden, who defeated Republican President Donald Trump less than a year ago, said the problems that defined the 2020 race have been resurrected in California, with potentially disastrous results if Newsom is eliminated in the recall vote.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters during a rally in the coastal city of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, Biden referred to the leading Republican candidate, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, as a “clone” of Trump.
“Can you imagine him being governor of this state?” Biden asked, as the crowd responded with shouts of “No, no!”
“You can’t let that happen. The stakes are high, ”said the president. “The eyes of the nation are on California,” added Biden, saying the recall vote “will reverberate across the country and … across the world.”
California voters only have two questions on Tuesday’s ballot: Should Newsom stay in office? And if not, who should replace it? There are 46 replacement candidates to choose from. If the voters stick with Newsom, the results of the second question are irrelevant.
in a poll published Friday by the Institute for Government Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, 60.1 percent of likely voters said they were in favor of retaining the governor, while 38.5 percent opposed his remaining. in office.
Democrats have returned twice as many ballots as Republicans so far in a four-week early voting period, state data showed. Nearly 8.6 million of California’s 22 million voters have already cast their vote by mail.
Voting by mail began nearly a month ago, with in-person voting on Tuesday and the polls closing at 8 pm local time (03:00 GMT).
James Lance Taylor, a professor at the University of San Francisco, told Al Jazeera that the problems critics have blamed Newsom for, from immigration to wildfires to gun violence, are not unique to California. .
“There is not a single Gavin Newsom-related problem that is not happening in other states, and Gavin Newsom has actually surpassed them all,” Taylor said.
The difference, he said, is that the California constitution allows a withdrawal without cause. “This is for no reason,” Taylor said.
Beyond Elder, other prominent Republicans in the race include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and businessman John Cox.
The best-known Democrat is Kevin Paffrath, a financial adviser with a large YouTube following.