Recall election: What’s at stake, what are the polls saying and when are we expected to see results?

Recall election polls are closing at 8 p.m. and soon, California voters will know the fate of the governorship. Gov. Gavin Newsom is at risk of being removed from office and Republican candidates are leading the polls to replace him if he is recalled.

Mail ballots were delivered to California voters in mid-August, and residents had the option to mail in or drop off ballots. The ballot asked voters if they want to recall Newsom and who should replace him from a 46-person list.

Jennifer Cryer, assistant professor of political science and international relations at USC, said she believes this election process is “antidemocratic,” as there are a large number of candidates to choose from, meaning a candidate could win with less than 25% of the votes.

What’s at stake for the recall election?

Talk show host Larry Elder, a Republican candidate leading the polls for Newsom’s replacement, has expressed he is against expanding abortion rights. In an interview with KQED, he said Roe v. Wade “was one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court ever handed down.”

Since the start of the recall election, women rights groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Women Against the Recall (WAR) have been trying to create awareness of the impact the recall could have on abortion rights and advocating for people to vote “no.”

Nolice Edwards, coordinator at WAR, stated that the group worked toward mobilizing women across California to oppose the recall. “We have gathered signatures from around the state and presented them to the government to show that he has women’s support,” Edwards said.

This comes as as conservative states around the country are attempting to restrict abortion access. In September, Texas passed a law banning abortion after six weeks. Planned Parenthood officials stated that of the 1.4 million visits to abortion clinics in California, 7,000 were women from different states.

“We can’t take anything for granted as it relates to California’s leadership and the impact that it has across this nation,” Shannon Olivieri Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, said during an online event last month.

Larry Elder’s election could also potentially mean the end of mask and vaccination requirements, as he plans on removing the mandates imposed by Newsom.

Emily Blodget, clinical associate professor of medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, said there has been an increase in cases and hospitalizations in states where mask mandates and vaccination requirements have ended. “If mandates are removed, we are likely to see some increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations in California,” Blodget said.

Elder has also denied the existence of systemic racism and openly criticized the Black Lives Matter movement. In the 2020 documentary he produced, “Uncle Tom,” he argues that Black Americans have been misled to believe in racism and oppression in the country. Elder also states on his campaign website that he is against gun control, minimum wage and climate change policies.

What are the most recent polls saying?

As of press time, Five Thirty Eight polls are showing that 57.3% of California voters do not want to recall Newsom, while 41.5% are voting to remove him.

Among Newsom’s potential replacements, Larry Elder is leading the polls with 29.7% of the votes, followed by Democrat candidate Kevin Paffrath, with 6.1%, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Fauloner, with 5.1%.

Kambiz Akhavan, Executive Director of the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, said even though California Democrats outnumber Republicans by 5 million, Republicans are more “motivated to vote” than Democrats. A CBS poll shows that 72% of Republican voters are “very motivated to vote,” as opposed to 61% of Democrat voters.

Cryer said Californians are often not aware of how important their vote is.

“Even if you believe that Newsom is safe, your vote particularly matters,” Cryer said.

When are we expected to see election results?

Results will start appearing when polls close tonight at 8 p.m. but all mailed ballots dated Tuesday will still need to be counted.