In California, what was once a tight recall election became a comfortable win for the current governor, Gavin Newsom. There will be a few autopsies of the race, trying to find out what happened, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. California remains in Democratic hands for the foreseeable future.
If anything, I think embracing the entertainment side of the race probably hurt the Republicans more than anything. The leading candidate, Larry Elder, bought into the media hype that it was about him and Newsom, which allowed the media and the Democrats to define him. That put the battle squarely in their terms and not the Republican Party’s terms. More message discipline, more focusing on Newsom rather than Elder might have made the difference.
As it stands, the moment the race became about Elder appears to be the moment that the polling numbers began to widen, giving Newsom the lead he needed. This was also around the time the race also became about Elder and Trump, and Elder embracing that was the final distraction needed to take all the focus off the governor and his draconian policies.
But this win will actually embolden Democrats across the country to double down on those policies because the Democrats are really bad about divining the meaning behind their victories. They see their electoral wins as mandates from the voters when, more often than not, the voters are merely tired of some of the extremes the Republicans are offering (an endless war, a reality star mean girl president, etc.). To be fair, Republicans are just as bad, interpreting voters seeking more moderation from the far-left Democrats the wrong way.
Democrats will see Newsom’s win as a sign that the people really are okay with being told to mask after getting vaccinated. They will think Americans want more government mandates on everything from vaccines to indoor seating limitations. All of this will come as the images from the Met Gala — where Democrats ate $35,000 meals, glad-handed the rich and influential while wearing expensive political activism in the form of gowns, and stood unmasked as the help surrounding them were masked — are still fresh in the American voters’ minds.
At this point, like Elder, the Democrats are buying into the media’s hype. They think that this win means the race was really a conservative effort to dethrone one of them when, in reality, the problem was voter dissatisfaction with Newsom’s constant hypocrisy toward his own mandates. He told voters to mask up, even while eating in restaurants (the ones that could afford to stay open), all while he was pictured breaking that rule. He told them to avoid gatherings while he hosted lavish parties. He forced kids to go to camps with strict mask requirements while sending his own to athletic camps with no mask requirements at all.
He has used public office to enrich himself while homelessness runs rampant in his state, causing health and safety concerns. His policies lead to regular blackouts during the wildfires of the summer months. Literally, everything he has done as governor has hurt the state. But it’s all done in the name of Progress, and the voters were fine keeping him in office over an alternative. California voters will have to own up to that when he doubles down, and Democrats across the country will suffer when they join him in doubling down.
Because in 2022, the voters will speak their minds about these draconian policies. And the polling across the states does not bode well for them now. Imagine how much worse it will be when they do more and more in the name of “safety” (or, really, control). While it may be bad for people now, in the long run, it’s going to be worse for Democrats more.