President Joe Biden took a victory lap Wednesday after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom easily won his recall race.
‘This vote is a resounding win for the approach that he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely, and strong plans to distribute real medicines – not fake treatments – to help those who get sick,’ Biden said in a statement.
Biden had traveled to Long Beach, California Monday night for an election eve rally on behalf of Newsom, who at one point looked in danger of being ousted by California Republicans.
President Joe Biden took a victory lap Wednesday after California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom easily won his recall race
Biden credited Newsom’s win with the governor’s support for ‘strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely, and strong plans to distribute real medicines – not fake treatments – to help those who get sick’
Biden (left) traveled to Long Beach, California on Monday to headline an election eve rally in support of Newsom (right)
The tide had turned, however, when Newsom had a defined candidate to run against: conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, who threatened to roll-back COVID protocols, such as Newsom’s mandate for state workers to get vaccinated or else face weekly testing.
Biden dubbed Elder a ‘Trump clone’ and feared he could follow in the steps of other Republican governors by rolling back COVID-19 safeguards.
‘We saw the Delta surge as a real inflection moment in this campaign. I think it was a turning point for us,’ Newsom’s campaign adviser Sean Clegg told reporters Monday. ‘What Delta brought into clear, clear focus was what the stakes are in this election. When one party has basically become an anti-science, anti-vaccine, anti-public health party.’
‘Our message and endgame here reduced to a single sentence: a vote for this recall is a vote for a pro-Trump, anti-vaxx Republican governor who is going to reverse vaccine mandates on day one,’ Clegg said.
Vaccine mandates are popular in the state with 61 per cent of California adults in favor of some kind of mandate, according to a survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California conducted late last month.
Exit polls showed that about a third of voters, 31 per cent, rated coronavirus as their top issue. Of those who said that, about 80 per cent voted in favor of Newsom staying in the job.
‘The fact that voters in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking these steps to get the pandemic behind us,’ Biden said.
With 70 per cent of the vote in, 63.9 per cent of Californians voted ‘no’ – meaning they were against Newsom being recalled – while 36.1 per cent said ‘yes’ – a vote to remove him.
In Orange County, where Elder hosted his election night party, ‘no’ led in votes there too – with 52.6 per cent wanting Newsom to retain the governor’s mansion, and 47.4 per cent wanting him out.
However, with 30 per cent of the vote still out, the margins in Orange County – and other competitive areas – could get closer.
Even before Tuesday’s result, Democrats were observing the race and seeing if it’s a playbook they could use in the 2022 midterms.
Republican governors expected to run for the White House in 2024, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are leaning into his party’s anti-mask, anti-vaxx inclinations.
On the flip side, Democrats are hoping that by looking like the party of COVID responsibility they can weather what generally tend to be bad elections for the party in control of the White House next year.
‘Of course this was a resounding victory for Gov. Newsom, but also for a science-based approach to fighting the pandemic, for vaccines, for testing, for steps that will protect more people and save more lives,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Wednesday’s press briefing.
‘There’s extensive data from last night that shows Californians were overwhelmingly in favor of a leader who was willing to take strong steps to defeat COVID and get the economy up and running,’ she said.
Nationally, however, a pro-mandate stance could be more problematic.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday showed that a slight majority – 51 to 48 per cent – were against Biden’s plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for American workers.
Biden is pushing companies that employ more than 100 people to mandate vaccinations or have them get tested for COVID-19 weekly.
While 89 per cent of Democrats approved and 84 per cent of Republicans disapproved, independents trended toward disapproving the move, with 56 per cent against, and 44 per cent last week’s vaccine mandate announcement.