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Did Newsom’s recall strategy limit the votes on question 2?

Two questions have never been more important to California’s future.

Will Gavin Newsom be recalled from the governor’s office? If so, who should replace him?

While Newsom will easily fend off the recall and complete the remaining 14 months, political analysts will examine the numbers, and specifically the percentage of voters who did not answer the second question. Partial results show that the second question received about 4 million fewer votes than the first.

according to UC Berkeley Institute of State Studies survey About one-third of prospective voters said they would pass the vote on the second question, which was co-sponsored by The Times and published Friday; this rose to 49% among the state’s prospective Democratic voters.

The term is called “ballot cancellation,” and for Thad Kousser, professor of political science at UC San Diego, the decision to leave the second half of the ballot blank is “shocking.”

“This is not healthy for democracy,” he said, “because only a fraction of our voters are voting in these incredibly important elections.”

But as a strategy for Newsom, he adds, it’s “excellent.”

By marginalizing the other 46 candidates to none of the above status, Kousser said the Newsom campaign provided voters with a simple election that turned the numbers in their favour, and removed confusion and deliberation that could possibly cause problems. Governor.

The calculation was simple. Of the 22 million voters in the state, Newsom needed 10.3 million Democrats and nearly 3 million independent voters to win, and while the math worked in his favor—Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the state almost 2-to-1—the campaign wasn’t initially.

Passionate supporters of the recall, waving signs and flooding social media, sent shockwaves through the Democratic party, who feared that conservative talk-radio host Larry Elder might win if the Democrats didn’t show up.

To win the recall supporters relied on either a low turnout or a large defection from Democrats who said yes to the first question and ultimately engaged the second.

To thwart this possibility, the Newsom campaign actively encouraged the renewal of the ballot. When Newsom voted in downtown Sacramento last Friday, she took some time to speak to reporters. Just a no vote, he said.

“And fill in the second question?”

“No interest,” he said, “vote no. Just a simple no and go.”

Kousser offered voters a choice between “a Democrat you won’t love and a Republican you hate.”

In an effort to dissuade Democratic voters from choosing another Democrat, Kousser said the Newsom campaign harkens back to an era of machine politics, where candidates are elected behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms.

In the decision to play with the system, any discussion of the issues that residents of the state cared about—climate change, homelessness—was left behind. “And any process that encourages and empowers a leader to take away voters’ choices requires a serious look at reform,” Kousser said.

As the dust of today’s vote settles, Californians will no doubt be left to question the results of this historic election that set two standards for their candidates, requiring the incumbent to win by a majority and failing to do so, allowing the opponent to win by just one margin. plurality.

Times staff writer John Myers in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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