Early Recall Voters Are as Democratic as in 2020. Here’s What it Means for Newsom.

Already, more people have returned ballots than cast votes in the last California recall election in 2003.,


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With polls still open in California, millions of votes have been received so far.

Sept. 14, 2021, 10:46 p.m. ET

Sept. 14, 2021, 10:46 p.m. ET

Mail-in ballots being sorted at a Santa Clara County elections office in August. Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More than nine million votes have already been received in the California recall election, suggesting a relatively high turnout more reminiscent not of a low-wattage special election but of a high-profile midterm.

These nine million votes will probably account for most of the ballots cast in the election. They were overwhelmingly cast by mail or through early in-person voting. And they offer an emerging picture of an electorate that is somewhat older, whiter and more highly educated than those who had returned ballots at this time in last November’s presidential election.

Overall in the recall, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 25-point margin in ballots recorded so far, 51 to 26 percent, according to figures from Political Data, a California-based data vendor. That Democratic advantage is nearly identical to the 50 percent to 25 percent edge that California Democrats enjoyed among the ballots returned by this point in 2020.

Like last November’s election, registered Democrats have been slightly likelier to cast advance ballots than Republicans, likely reflecting the new Democratic enthusiasm for mail voting during the pandemic — or Republican skepticism of mail voting during the Trump era.

President Biden went on to win California by 29 percentage points.

Despite the similar partisan makeup of the advance vote, the state has received fewer ballots than at this point in the general election, when 13 million ballots had already been returned to election officials.

Over all, 16 percent of the returns are from 18- to 34-year-old voters and 18 percent are thought to be Latinos, based on their surnames or neighborhoods. At this point in 2020, 21 percent were ages 18 to 34 and 21 percent were Latinos.

Typically, young and Latino voters are likelier to vote closer to the election and will likely represent a larger share of all voters, as they did in 2020.

Even so, the recall turnout appears high by nearly any other standard besides the 2020 election. Already, more people have returned ballots than cast votes in the last California recall election in 2003, when the Democratic governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. It is also higher than the total turnout in the 2014 midterm election.

The relatively high and Democratic turnout so far has further narrowed the already daunting path to recall Mr. Newsom. The possibility that Republicans might benefit from an unusual turnout advantage was thought to be one of the likeliest ways that the recall effort might succeed in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

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