Social Media Analysis of the California Gubernatorial Recall Election
With the California Gubernatorial Recall Election just six weeks away, One Country Project engaged with Impact Social to observe online discussion about the election. A brief overview of the analysis follows:
Despite polls showing a tightening race in California, social conversation has continued to show the Democratic party and Governor Newsom supporters enacting a focused campaign to promote voter turnout and avoid complacency. Messages primarily revolve around “Vote No” and reminding those who are less likely to vote that, if Newsom were recalled, the state could be saddled with an unproven and unpopular replacement who would have received as little as 30 percent of the vote statewide.
The pro-Newsom conversations have mainly fallen into four broad categories:
1. Pro-Newsom, consisting of voters who generally like the Governor and the work he has done in office, including his response to COVID;
2. Anti-recall, voters who are opposed to the recall itself;
3. Anti-Republican, voters who are afraid Larry Elder or another GOP candidate could become governor with a minority of popular support; and
4. “Vote No,” a simple and concise drumbeat of messaging, reinforcing the idea voters should vote no on the recall question.
The GOP and pro-recall conversations have been disorganized and unfocused, failing to support a single candidate or coalesce around a definitive set of reasons why Newsom should be recalled as governor. The pro-recall conversation has fallen into an overlapping mishmash of anti-Newsom, pro-GOP, cultural grievance, and conspiracy mongering that is reflective of the current state of the GOP nationally. Supporters of the recall have also drifted into the realm of conspiracy theories with frequent mentions that the election will be stolen due to legal registered voters voting by mail. This conjecture and fearmongering have cost the GOP in previous elections and may well limit their ability to turn out enough voters to build a majority coalition capable of recalling Gov. Newsom.
The online conversation around this recall election is proving to be another test of the electorate’s willingness to reward leaders who did the right thing in their COVID response, or if they will be swayed by the increasingly extreme and fact free claims of the other side. In six weeks, we’ll have the tale of the tape to tell us more.