The California recall effort could make Newsom a Democratic hero

Many recall races are blowouts. For example in 1995, California Republicans targeted Democratic Assemblyman Michael Machado for a recall after he squeaked into office. Machado won the recall with 63% of the vote. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats went after Republican state Sen. Jeff Denham in 2008 — his victory margin increased by more than 15 percentage points in the recall.

If Newsom joins these earlier colleagues and wins big, he might effectively scare away serious Republican contenders and big money GOP donors who may have been thinking about trying to unseat him in 2022. The impact down ballot could be significant and have serious nationwide implications. A strong performance for the whole ticket would help the Democrats keep Vice President Kamala Harris’ old Senate seat (in which they are already heavily favored), their supermajorities in the legislature and their stranglehold on the rest of the state government.

More important, a strong showing by Newsom could help the Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives.

As unbelievable as it sounds, although President Donald Trump lost the state by 29 points, 2020 was actually a good year for Republicans in California. After a drubbing in 2018, when they lost seven seats, Republicans managed to gain four congressional seats (one in a special election that they retained in November). These victories included three races in which Republican House challengers beat Democratic incumbents for the first time since 1994.