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Republicans Got What They Deserved in California Recall

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Steven Greenhut | 9.24.2021 8:00 AM

On the eve of California's second-ever gubernatorial recall election, polls showed dire news for those hoping to bounce Gavin Newsom from office and replace him with someone with a more conservative mindset. Despite my issues with the governor, I was far more disappointed with the statements from recall supporters than from the polling data.

Before voting was even finished, Republican "leaders promoted unsubstantiated claims that the race was rigged or compromised by misconduct," AP reported. It noted that leading replacement candidate, Larry Elder, said, "there might very well be shenanigans." And Donald Trump asked, "Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn't rigged?"

Apparently, Republicans only trust election results when they emerge as winners. That poses a long-term problem for the health of our democratic system, but—in California, in particular—it poses an existential problem for the GOP. When a party refuses to live in the real world, it's not going to make sensible decisions that help it get back in the political game.

I talked to some conservative activists in the weeks before the vote, and many of them were living in a fantasy world. Some were sure that the polls weren't accurate because of liberal polling bias and the recall really was on track, while others believed the nonsense about fraud. After Newsom scored an impressive 64 percent to 36 percent victory, recall supporters were looking for everyone but themselves to........

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