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Democrats sweat turnout disaster in California without Trump to run against

David Siders | Politico | August 23, 2021

Democrats turned out in record numbers when they had Trump to vote against. But in one of the first, large-scale tests of voter enthusiasm for Democrats in the post-Trump era, California’s surprisingly close gubernatorial recall election is laying bare just how hard it may be for the party to motivate its base without Trump as a foil.

Even in this bastion of progressive politics, ominous signs for the Democratic Party are everywhere. A CBS News-YouGov poll last week found voters who cast ballots for Joe Biden were less likely than Trump supporters to be very closely following the recall — and less motivated to vote. In a Berkeley-IGS survey, registered Democrats and independent voters were nearly 30 percentage points less likely than Republicans to express a high level of interest in voting in the election.

The lack of enthusiasm is so concerning to Democrats that Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor, has been furiously working to yoke his main Republican opponent, Larry Elder, to Trump, while volunteers working with the progressive advocacy group Courage California texted voters a plea last week not to throw their mail ballots away.