Gavin Newsom was a strong supporter of the state's political divisions. The Democratic governor won large support in the coastal areas and urban centers while rural north and the agricultural inland, which have far fewer voters than him, wanted him to go.
Melissa Michelson, a Menlo College political scientist, said that it's almost like two countries.
California is a stronghold for liberals, with Democrats holding every statewide office in California and two-thirds majority in the Legislature. However, California also has deep conservative areas. These residents feel alienated from Sacramento, where Democrats hold full control for over a decade.
For years, a conservative movement in Northern California sought to separate and create its own state to better represent the political sensibilities of the region.
Although Republicans are still able to win local elections, they haven't won a statewide election since 2006. Last year, Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, received 6 million votes in California for 2020. This was more than any Republican presidential candidate. However, Trump lost in a landslide defeat to Joe Biden who won almost 64% of the votes.
Although Republicans hold only 11 of 53 U.S. House seat in the state, their strongholds aren't able to defeat Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, and other Democratic areas in statewide election. County like Orange and San Diego, which are the second and third most populated, were once dominated by Republicans but they have changed.
64% of those who opposed Newsom's early retirement had about 85% of recall ballots. Orange was up 4 points, while San Diego's "no" to recall won by 17 percentage points.
Fresno was the largest county in the area where recall was taking place. It is the 10th most populated. It was still only 1 percentage point ahead.
Jeffrey Cummins, Fresno State University's professor of political science, stated that the results confirm Newsom's partisan critics as "a very small percentage of the population."
He said, "They are vocal about their disdain for Sacramento in general and state government in specific, and the recall just gave... a nationwide platform to voice their opposition towards the direction that the state is heading."
The recall organizers failed to expand their appeal and struggled to get Republicans to their core areas. Kern County, which is the largest area of Congress represented by Kevin McCarthy, will see less than half its vote when all votes have been counted. The statewide turnout is expected to be around 55%
"We were more in LA than any other media market. Nathan Click, a spokesperson for Newsom, said that this was deliberate. It worked, Newsom received nearly 71% of the support.
Long-standing tradition has shown that Democrats are more dominant in urban areas of the United States, while Republicans are more common in rural and agricultural areas. However, deep geographic polarization was not always a defining feature in California politics.
The current division is not caused by one factor. They include the recession of the 1990s, the closing of military bases, and the collapse of the defense sector, which caused many white working-class people to flee the state.
California's economy shifted to a growing Silicon Valley and entertainment industry. Both liberal bastions, this was a shift that reflected California's changing economic focus. The state also became more diverse with the arrival of millions of Latinos and Asians. The coastal areas, where the majority of the population lives, became more Democratic over time.
Eric McGhee is a senior fellow at California's nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. He said that whereas the geographical divide was largely defined by San Francisco and Los Angeles a decade ago, San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino counties with combined populations of 8.5million people have become more diverse, democratic, and Democratic.
Newsom made it a point of regularly traveling to the Central Valley since his inception as a governor. Newsom supports the controversial high-speed train project in the region, and has pledged to supply more water to those who lack it.
His administration has also made it difficult for farmers to survive in the region, limiting their water use during droughts.
On Wednesday, Newsom pledged to respect those who support him and those who don't.
"Those who voted yes matter. I care. He said, "I want them to know that I care."
However, Newsom cannot make everyone happy.
Jessica Trounstine, a political scientist at the University of California, Merced in the state's Central Valley, stated that Newsom is governing a large and diverse state. "It's difficult to be attentive to both the very liberal coasts" and the more moderate and even conservative areas.