On Oct. 22, 2021, California certified the results of the recall election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 14. Of the 12.8 million voters who participated in the election, 61.9% voted to retain Newsom, and 38.1% voted to recall.
Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. Approximately 7.4 million voters selected a candidate on the second question. The five candidates to receive the most votes were: radio host Larry Elder (R) with 48.4%, YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D) with 9.6%, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) with 8.0%, doctor Brandon Ross (D) with 5.3%, and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R) with 4.1%. Eight other candidates received at least 1% of the vote.
The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote was required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If voters had recalled Newsom, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election.
Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran, and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.