California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) survived a recall election on Tuesday night by a wide margin. TV networks projected the loss of the recall around 11:30 p.m. ET, shortly after the polls closed on the West Coast. Only one governor, Gray Davis, has ever successfully been recalled.

Conservative radio host Larry Elder, outspoken critic Newsom’s COVID-19 policies, was the top Republican contender.

Newsom’s strategy had changed to adapt to Elder’s rise in the polls. “There was a growing sense amongst political insiders that the anti-recall campaign’s focus on Donald Trump as the evil force we had to defeat was losing traction,” said Democratic strategist Darry Sragow. “Then his alter ego shows up in a state where Donald Trump got about a third of the vote. Somebody smiled on Gavin Newsom and presented California voters with the opportunity to listen to Larry Elder.”

Newsom, who claimed Elder would take California “off the Covid cliff,” pushed voters to view their ballot as a “life or death” decision.

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