Huge turnout from Bay Area Democrats could sway the recall vote in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s favor. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

Huge turnout from Bay Area Democrats could sway the recall vote in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s favor. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

Bay Area could swing Newsom recall, with early data showing huge turnout

Nearly 45% of region’s heavily Democratic voters have returned ballots

All the talk this summer about Republicans having a real shot at unseating Gov. Gavin Newsom may have given Democrats the jolt they needed to defeat the recall.

In an election that hinges on turnout, the latest data from state officials suggests Newsom’s Democratic base in the Bay Area is showing up big to support him.

Nearly 45 percent of voters from the Bay Area’s nine heavily Democratic counties have returned their ballots as of Sunday, according California Secretary of State data reviewed by The Examiner.

Marin County, where 61 percent of registered voters are Democrats, led the pack with nearly 53 percent voter turnout. At the other end of the spectrum, Solano County had the least amount of registered Democrats, 48 percent, and the lowest turnout by far, at 33.5 percent.

The numbers bode well for Newsom since the Bay Area is a Democratic stronghold and the vote is expected to split along party lines.

The data is also welcome news for Democrats given that a UC Berkeley IGS poll found in July that the recall could be a close race because of higher turnout among Republicans than Democrats. It comes days after the same pollsters found last week that Newsom’s chances of defeating the recall had improved as more Democrats became engaged.

Ace Smith, a lead political strategist for the Newsom campaign, said the numbers represent high voter turnout in the Bay Area for a special election held on an odd date. That’s a good sign for Newsom, given that success in the region has ensured victory for candidates going back decades.

“If you’re a weather person looking at weather and predicting weather,” Smith said, “You’re predicting really good weather for Gavin Newsom.”

Smith said the statewide record turnout for a special election was 63 percent in the 2003 contest, where Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger ousted then-Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. He predicted that voter turnout in California would look more like 65 percent on Tuesday.

John Arntz, head of the San Francisco Department of Elections, said turnout was looking “really good” in The City with a day remaining before the election. As of Monday, 240,000 registered voters, or 49 percent, had returned their ballots, mostly by mail. (Voters can also drop off mail-in ballots in person.) That’s only 9 percent less than a day before last November’s presidential election, which pitted Donald Trump against Joe Biden.

“To have nearly 50 percent before Election Day generally is very, very good,” Arntz said.

Arntz said he expected voter turnout to increase Tuesday, but would not predict by how much because the election is so unique. Unlike a normal election, this one is being held in September, all voters got a ballot in the mail and there’s only one issue being contested.

“This is a different type of election than we have experienced before,” Arntz said.

David Campos, vice chair of the California Democratic Party, said high turnout in the Bay Area, and specifically San Francisco, is important for the party carrying a victory statewide. He was hopeful Newsom would win.

“We want as big a win as possible, but we will take anything that is a win,” Campos said.


Voter turnout in Bay Area counties as of Sunday

San Francisco

Accepted: 237,904

Delivered: 519,193

Voter turnout: 45.8%

Registered Democrats: 62.75%


Accepted: 93,086

Delivered: 175,826

Voter turnout: 52.9%

Registered Democrats: 61.28%


Accepted: 429,655

Delivered: 957,039

Voter turnout: 44.9%

Registered Democrats: 59.97%


Accepted: 152,495

Delivered: 308,677

Voter turnout: 49.4%

Registered Democrats: 56.50%

San Mateo

Accepted: 210,632

Delivered: 447,019

Voter turnout: 47.12%

Registered Democrats: 55.44%

Contra Costa

Accepted: 312,717

Delivered: 716,019

Voter turnout: 43.7%

Registered Democrats: 53.20%

Santa Clara

Accepted: 439,623

Delivered: 1,027,886

Voter turnout: 42.8%

Registered Democrats: 50.33%


Accepted: 39,981

Delivered: 85,917

Voter turnout: 46.5%

Registered Democrats: 49.92%


Accepted: 90,265

Delivered: 269,085

Voter turnout: 33.5%

Registered Democrats: 48.47%

Total Bay Area

Accepted: 2,006,358

Delivered: 4,506,661

Voter turnout: 44.5%

Registered democrats: 55.5%

Source: California Secretary of State data

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