The hidden factor in the California recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) may simply be that schools opened on time in the midst of a new coronavirus surge that matched some of the troubling infection levels of last winter’s surge.
Rumors have been flying among parents that schools will be closed once again. But for now, teachers’ unions have allowed the schools to open on time — which has probably buoyed Newsom’s campaign against the recall, taking place Sep. 14.
The recall election is partly responsible for the schools being open in the first place.
In March, with Newsom’s opponents about to turn in over two million signatures — more than the roughly 1.5 million required — and Newsom’s advisers saying they were worried about a possible celebrity opponent, Newsom and state Democratic leaders announced a deal to reopen schools across the state. They overrode the opposition of unions, who called the plan evidence of “structural racism.”
Newsom also lifted restrictions on businesses, allowing the state to reopen on June 15 — far later than many other states, but ahead of a busy summer season.
His poll numbers recovered — but when the Delta variant became a major challenge, Newsom began to look vulnerable again. Newsom responded by imposing state vaccine mandates on healthcare workers and on state employees — policies that enraged his opponents but delighted his hard core of wealthy liberal supporters.
What was more telling was what Newsom did not do — for example, imposing statewide water restrictions in the middle of a crushing drought. Experts opined that Newsom was fearful of imposing restrictions before the recall election.
Likewise with schools, which opened in mid-August, despite the Delta variant. Widespread vaccination helped ease fears — thanks to the private company that managed the rollout after the state failed, moving the state from the worst to among the best.
Elections are a single data point influenced by countless factors. Newsom’s poll recovery over the last several weeks also coincided with massive spending by Democrats, and a racist media campaign to demonize his top opponent, Larry Elder — which, notably, Newsom did not condemn. Elder could still defy the polls and win.
But if Newsom had closed the public schools, as he did last year, while sending his children to private schools, his recall might have been almost unstoppable.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.