Polls suggest California voters are poised to defeat an effort to recall the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom
The polls could be wrong or change fast. At present, though, their findings are entirely unremarkable. California has nearly twice as many registered Democrats as registered Republicans. Newsom was elected by almost 24 percentage points in 2018. With one notable exception, in 2003, every previous attempt to recall a California governor has failed.
But this is the era of the Big Lie.
Influenced by former President Donald Trump’s serial lying about the 2020 election he lost, many Republican voters are now suspicious, for no good reason, about the integrity of American elections in general. And prominent Republicans know how to rile up the crowd they created.
With Tuesday’s Election Day fast approaching, Trump and other right-wing figures, including top Newsom replacement candidate Larry Elder, have started to lay the groundwork to baselessly dismiss a potential Newsom victory as a product of Democratic cheating.
The rhetoric from Trump and Elder mirrors what happened in the weeks leading up to Election Day 2020, when Trump and his allies relentlessly pushed the lie that Democrats could not possibly beat him in an election that wasn’t “rigged.” And it benefits from years of additional dishonesty, by Trump and others, portraying California as a cesspool of mass illegal voting.
In a Newsmax television interview last Tuesday, Trump called the California recall “probably rigged.” Trump escalated his dishonesty in a written statement on Monday, saying: “Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn’t rigged? Millions and millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
Elder’s campaign website now features a link to a website that makes baseless and vague assertions of fraud in the recall and urges residents to sign a petition “demanding a special session of the California legislature to investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election of Governor Gavin Newsom.” Again, because Election Day hadn’t arrived yet, there were not yet any results at all at the time Elder’s campaign began promoting this petition, let alone “twisted” results.
Elder, prompted by a Fox News host, said Monday that he is “worried about fraud,” and he promoted the “election integrity project” featured on his website. And in a Monday interview with Jacob Soboroff, an NBC News and MSNBC correspondent, Elder would not commit to accepting the result of the election, saying instead that “we all ought to be looking at election integrity.”
Elder made similar remarks last week. At a campaign event last Wednesday, Elder said, “We’ve heard a lot of things that have…