In the last month, President Joe Biden has been afflicted by climate, military and public health crises. There is a political catastrophe brewing in California that could be disastrous for his party.
With a week to spare, the White House is diving into the California gubernatorial recall election, coming to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was assisted by Vice President Kamala Harris, and then Biden to ease concerns about Democratic turnout in September’s unusual vote.
After a planned visit to Newsom was cancelled due to chaos surrounding Afghanistan’s withdrawal, Harris will campaign with Newsom in the state on Wednesday. Biden is also expected to visit the state next week ahead of Tuesday’s elections.
It’s an opportunity for Biden to show his political muscle in a state that Harris and he are both popular. This will be a test of Biden’s political power after a difficult August, and before the 2022 midterms when control of Congress as well as more than half the country’s governorships is up for grabs.
Biden and Harris are hoping to boost Newsom’s chances of surviving an unpredicted recall effort in a state which remains crucial to Biden’s agenda at both the state and national levels.
Joel Benenson, an ex-pollster for President Barack Obama’s campaigns, stated that “it’s simply too large a state to lose a election in.” “Non-showing up is more risky than showing up.”
Benenson pointed out that aside from the political implications of losing a governor’s seat for the Democratic Party, the outcome could also have an impact on the composition of the Senate if Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat is opened up. This would allow her replacement to be appointed the governor.
Although reliable polling is scarce, a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California in August showed that 58% of respondents would vote against Newsom’s removal, and 39% said yes.
About half of all likely voters say that they don’t have a preference for a replacement candidate, or they aren’t sure.
According to Kyle Kondick (a nonpartisan political analyst at University of Virginia), Newsom’s main concern is not the polls but getting Democratic base voters to be engaged and aware of the fact that an unusually timed election is needed.
Kondick stated that Newsom’s main problem is making sure the Democratic turnout is strong enough to save him.
“One way is to bring in high profile surrogates, who will get lots of media coverage and help spread the word that the recall is taking place.” From a Democratic perspective it’s difficult to find two better people than Vice President Kamala Harris who is from California and the president.