As Scott discussed in a post this morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom not only avoided recall, he avoided it quite handily. It seems that nearly two-thirds of the Californians who voted in this election favored sticking with Newsom despite the obvious deterioration of the Golden State and its governor’s foibles.

Kyle Smith explains Newsom’s easy victory with a question: “Compared to what?”

Conservatives got high on our own supply out in California. We neglected to ask, “Compared to what?”

It’s pretty easy to make the case that Gavin Newsom is terrible, but compared to what? A recall election that was a referendum on Newsom had a chance to succeed, but. . .once the possibility of ejecting Newsom entered the imagination, voters started to wonder who might succeed him. Newsom sucks . . . compared to what?

Once Larry Elder became the overwhelming front runner, Newsom was safe. A fire-breathing conservative was not going to win in California, except accidentally, and if Elder had managed to secure the governorship through the recall back door he would immediately have become a lame duck anyway. His every effort would have been stymied by the courts and the legislature until the election next fall, when he would have been succeeded by a liberal Democrat.

It’s not clear to me that Newsom would have been recalled in any scenario, but I agree with Smith that Newsom became a lock to survive once Elder emerged as the alternative.

Smith concludes:

Conservative politics in a deep-blue state can’t be just a chest-thumping exercise, a chance to let our collective id out for a roar. It has to persuade the voters, and California conservatives and Republicans had plenty of time to unite behind a more electable candidate than Elder.

Liberal Democrats understand how to play the game. Typically, they nominate non-threatening-seeming candidates in reddish states. They even bit the bullet and nominated Joe Biden for president.

If conservatives want to block Democrats from radically transforming America the way they have transformed California, we have to become better at playing the electoral game.

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