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If Young Voters Sit Out, Is It Over for Newsom?

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Young voters don't appear to be engaged in the California gubernatorial recall. That's bad news for Gavin Newsom. (AP File)
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Registered voters under 35 years old comprise the largest segment of the California electorate. But of the 6.1 million voters in the 18-34 age group, just 9% had returned gubernatorial recall ballots through Monday.

This low early participation rate surely is causing concern in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s camp.

“This segment of young voters, with that 40-point Democratic (registration) advantage, is going to clearly be the most critical parts of the electorate for the ‘no’ side to turn out in these last two weeks,” said Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc. in an email.

And, CalMatters reported Monday that “Newsom and fellow Democrats are counting on turnout numbers similar to the November 2020 presidential election, when 54% of Californians ages 18 to 29 voted, a jump of 17 percentage points from 2016, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.”

In contrast, older voters appear engaged in the recall.

Through Monday, 18% of the state’s 22 million registered voters had mailed back ballots. But that total is bolstered by voters 65-and older. Thus far, they have cast 41% of the 4 million returned ballots even though they make up 23% of registered voters, Mitchell said.

College GOP Whips Up Votes for Elder

The top candidate to replace Newsom is conservative talk-show host Larry Elder.

The California College Republicans are targeting young voters on Elder’s behalf. The group’s efforts include social media, phone banks, and knocking on doors.

“CCR is proud to join the party grassroots in supporting a conservative for Governor. The California College Republicans are proudly socially conservative. …We urge the rest of the Party to join us, and we look forward to electing Larry Elder together,” the group said in a press release.

Larry Elder fires up the crowd at Clovis North High School on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email