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Latino voters are often late deciders and many vote in person on Election Day, but Gov. Gavin Newsom strategists and Democratic leaders were very worried about early signs that pointed to a potential underperformance among those voters, who were hit hard by the pandemic.
The “no” on the recall campaign heavily ramped up outreach to those voters in the final days of this campaign.
Early exit polls suggest that Latinos made up 25% of the electorate. That number was higher than several Democratic strategists were expecting.
If that trend were to hold, they said the turning point in getting Latinos to turn in their ballots was Newsom’s effort to sharpen the contrast between his own record and the xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant statements by GOP candidate Larry Elder (as well as Elder’s positions on health care).
Newsom had warned Elder would bring back the days of Proposition 187 (a proposition that would have denied health care, education and welfare benefits to undocumented immigrants). Newsom needed it to be less of a referendum on his handling of Covid-19, and more about creating the fear about what Elder might do on immigration and health care in order to start moving that vote.
One source said he interpreted the numbers as a sign that Latinos “are coming back to say: “we trust you, we believe you, but don’t take us for granted.”
One of the reasons Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strategists are feeling so confident tonight is because of the scale of their ground game in California – a state where campaigns normally just play out through television ads.
Newsom’s team scrambled to build out a huge, coordinated operation over 10 weeks by partnering with labor groups and 90 community organizations. As of this evening, the head of Newsom’s ground game operation told CNN they have had “real conversations” with about 1.5 million voters over the course of about seven weeks – noting that’s “at a scale bigger than most of the presidential campaigns.”
They’ve been averaging about 600,000 attempts to reach voters per day. That includes the thousands of walkers who still are out in 15 counties going door-to-door to remind people to turn in their ballots.
Team Newsom has been contacting voters in seven different languages — English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese — via phone, text and door knocks.
The goal is to hit two million door knocks by the end of the day.
“We tried to create a surround sound,” the adviser said, “a multi-layered approach that meets voters wherever they are.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s team is confident of victory – not just because Democrats have continued to dominate the early ballots cast, but because they expect to see a second blue wave in the “aftercount.”
Newsom Campaign Manager Juan Rodriguez uses the analogy of an accordion shape to describe the flow of results.
Just after 8:01 p.m. local time (11:01 p.m. ET), he is expecting to see that first blue wave, which will reflect the Democrats dominance of the early ballots cast, but then a redder, more conservative wave as the Election Day votes come in, and then another big blue wave in the ballots that arrive after Election Day. (Ballots that could have been postmarked today, but can arrive for up to seven days).
Rodriguez pointed to the size of the “aftercount” in 2018, saying 36% of the total ballots cast in that election arrived in the “aftercount.”
Former President Trump claimed that perfectly legal 2020 ballots that arrived after Election Day were somehow fraudulent. Now in this recall election, could GOP candidate Larry Elder follow that playbook in California?
As President Biden returns to the White House tonight after the first West Coast visit of his presidency, aides say he has an air of confidence over what top Democrats are seeing in California.
Aboard Air Force One, advisers briefed Biden on what they believe has been remarkably strong turnout for Democrats in today’s recall election.
When Biden said at a rally last night that the “eyes of the nation are on California,” he meant it – not only for Gov. Gavin Newsom, but also on the Covid-19 mandates he is imposing from the White House.
While there may be limits to the sweeping national lessons that can be drawn from the outcome in California, White House advisers believe a strong showing could give Democrats and independents a stronger sense of confidence at the administration’s fights over mask-wearing, vaccines and more.
Biden has increasingly been sharpening his challenge and criticism of Republican governors across the country.
The outcome tonight, advisers said, will put him in an even stronger position.
“California won’t end the Covid debate,” a White House adviser tells CNN, “but it could be a tremendous boost for what Democrats are trying to do.”
At one polling location in Orange County, California, the line of voters wrapped around the block to decide whether to remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, CNN’s Stephanie Elam reported.
“You see this long line of people, it’s only gotten longer as people finished up their workday and they’ve shown up here. Orange County is known for being a Republican stronghold. You’ve got a lot of Republican voters here, and many of the people that I’ve spoken to said that they wanted to make sure that their vote was counted, and that is why they’re showing up to do this in person,” Elam said, reporting from Huntington Beach.
Elam noted that she spoke with people who thought Newsom had done “an awful job.”
“They want him out of office. We talked to one woman who said that this is a giant waste of time because they have an election just next year for the governor’s office,” Elam continued.
Another woman told Elam she thought the special election is a good idea because it will make certain that elected leaders will be held accountable regardless of which way the election goes.
“As you can see, there’s a lot of activity in Orange County, and obviously Republicans are hoping that this will break their way in a county that has traditionally gone for the Republicans, but not always as demographics have changed here in Orange County,” Elam told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
A senior aide of GOP candidate Larry Elder disagreed with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom camp’s characterization of Election Day turnout, saying they believed it was strong.
The aide wouldn’t discuss the campaign’s internal targets, but said, “We haven’t had a recall election here in 18 years. I think what everybody is modeling is off.”
The aide predicted Elder would turn in a strong performance with independents.
The aide also said Elder’s staff — which is gathered in a back room at the Hilton in Costa Mesa, where he will speak tonight — expects early returns to show Newsom well ahead, but said Elder would gain ground as the night wears on and votes cast on Election Day rather than early votes are counted.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s team is watching to break voter turnout records for statewide special election, a top adviser told CNN.
“Team Newsom thinks we could be headed for a strong turnout,” a top adviser said.
According to data from the California Secretary of State, the 2003 recall had the highest turnout of a statewide special election in the state’s history at 61%.
“We’re on pace to break that,” the Newsom adviser said. Newsom’s team said it is “confident and the blue tide keeps rising.”
On last minute factors pushing Newsom over the finish line, “We’re buoyed by Biden���s visit.”
There are more voters now than there were in 2003. Today there are 22 million active voters in California compared to 15 million in 2003.
The confidence that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s team projected on Monday has not waned as Election Day votes come in, according to conversations with Newsom advisers, signaling the team is not seeing a surge in Republican turnout that would be able to overcome their early vote lead.
Newsom’s operatives on the ground have also not reported long lines in Republican strongholds across the state, one adviser said.
Obviously, as the adviser noted, even as the “Election Day vote does not appear to be on fire,” it is somewhat too “early to say” definitively.
California voters, who have endured raging wildfires, a historic drought and an ongoing pandemic, will decide Tuesday whether they want to remove from office Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s led the nation’s most populous state for the past two-and-a-half years.
Polls are set to close in a little over an hour at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET).
In order to hold onto his job, Newsom — first elected in 2018 — needs a majority of voters to have voted “no” on the first ballot question about whether they want to oust him. Newsom’s operation has largely been a turnout, rather than a persuasion, campaign.
With registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the state by nearly 2 to 1, his biggest hurdle has been getting them engaged in an off-year election amid the disruptions of the pandemic.
There were good signs for Newsom on that front in recent days, with Democrats casting pre-election ballots at a higher rate than their registration in the state, but Republicans have been counting on their voters showing up on Election Day to vote in person.
Only if a majority votes “yes” to remove Newsom does the second ballot come into play, determining who will serve as California’s governor through the end of Newsom’s term in January 2023. Voters have been asked to choose from a list of 46 candidates who qualified to have their name listed in the race to replace Newsom.
Why the race also matters on the national level: National Democrats are closely watching this race — the first major political contest since Democrats took full control of Washington last year — as a test of the party’s messaging on the pandemic ahead of next year’s midterms.
“The eyes of the nation are on California,” President Joe Biden said when rallying for Newsom in Long Beach on Monday.