California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to media representatives after meeting students from Melrose Leadership Academy while attending school in Oakland, Calif. On Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
Stephen Lam | San Francisco Chronicle | Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images
California Governor Gavin Newsom called his key victory in this week’s recall election a victory for vaccines and science. The data prove it.
A CNBC analysis of the county-level results – which are tentative as ballots continue to be counted – found a strong association between support for Newsom and counties with high Covid vaccination rates on election day, Sept. 14.
People in counties with high Covid vaccination rates voted overwhelmingly to keep him in office. Conversely, people in counties with lower vaccination rates voted for the governor’s removal.
“‘No’ is not the only thing said tonight. I want to focus on what we as a state said ‘Yes’ to,” Newsom said late Tuesday in Sacramento, thanking his supporters. “We said ‘yes’ to science, we said ‘yes’ to vaccines, we said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic.
The analysis also shows that people in many of California’s smaller counties are less likely to support Newsom and get vaccinated.
Of the 23 counties with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, 17 or around three quarters voted with “yes” for the recall. Meanwhile, only 10 of the 35 counties with more than 100,000 residents voted for the recall.
These small counties also tended to have lower vaccination rates. Eighteen of the 23 reported fewer than 50% of residents were fully vaccinated on election day, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the California Department of Health.
Lassen County, for example, has an estimated population of around 30,600 (as of 2019) and a current vaccination rate of nearly 22%. Around 84% of voters voted “yes” to the recall.
Similarly, Modoc County has an estimated population of 8,800 (as of 2019) and a current vaccination rate of 36.3%. 78 percent of voters also supported the recall.
At the other end of the spectrum, Los Angeles County has an estimated population of over 10 million (as of 2019) and a vaccination rate of 59.5%. Newsom’s voters strongly supported Newsom, with 70.8% voting “no”.
The majority of counties classified as rural or predominantly rural supported Newsom and were also less likely to vaccinate an urban area or areas of 50,000 or more residents, according to the latest 2010 data from the Census Bureau.
Ten out of 11 counties in California rated as rural or predominantly rural voted “yes” to the recall. These include Amador County, Calaveras County, Lassen County, Mariposa County, Modoc County, Plumas County, Sierra County, Siskiyou County, Tehama County, and Trinity County, according to the California Secretary of State.
According to CNBC analysis, all 10 of these counties reported vaccination rates below 50% on election day.
President Joe Biden, who campaigned alongside Newsom on the eve of Election Day, echoed the governor’s opinion of his victory.
“This vote is an overwhelming victory for the approach he and I share to defeating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to safely reopen schools, and strong plans to distribute real drugs – not fake treatments – to help those out who get sick. “Said Biden in a statement on Wednesday.
While the preliminary election results suggest the majority of Californians support the state’s pandemic measures, it was initially Newsom’s response to Covid that threatened its political fate.
Nationwide mask requirements, stay-at-home orders, and a maskless appearance by the governor at a high-end Napa Valley restaurant during the height of soaring Covid cases helped the recall petition gain momentum late last year and close to 1, Made 5 million Californians sign it.
However, Newsom’s handling of the pandemic in recent months, including its vaccine roll-out and mandates, became one of its strengths in the recall election.
The governor introduced the Covid vaccine requirements for government employees and healthcare workers in late July, which went into effect on August 5. It also introduced similar vaccination requirements for teachers and other school staff, a first measure in the nation taking effect Aug. 12.
California Governor Gavin Newsom attends a press conference to launch a Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Immunization Center on February 8, 2021 in San Diego, California.
Sandy Huffaker | Swimming pool | via Reuters
In the weeks leading up to the election, Newsom’s campaign criticized conservative talk show host Larry Elder, the Republican frontrunner, for agreeing to end such vaccine mandates and other pandemic measures.
The governor’s vigorous election campaign also promoted the state’s high vaccination rates in recent months. According to the Johns Hopkins University, 59.23% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated as of Friday.
A September poll published in the run-up to the recall election found that more than 3 in 4 Californians believe the state government is doing “an excellent or good job” distributing Covid vaccines. And about 6 in 10 said they approve of the overall way Newsom has responded to the pandemic, according to the Public Policy Institute of California poll.
“While a small group of cowardly, corrupt scammers in the Republican Party seek to attract attention by undermining trust in science and public health, the vast majority of Americans have not been fooled – they understand that vaccinations save lives “And they” support vaccine mandates with common sense, “Los Angeles-based Democratic adviser Michael Soneff said in an email.