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How many ballots are left to be counted in the California recall election?

Election worker Yolanda Lavayen carries recall ballots at the L.A. County registrar's satellite office in Pomona.
Election worker Yolanda Lavayen carries recall ballots at the L.A. County registrar’s satellite office in Pomona on Wednesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

About 74% of the votes cast in California’s recall election have been counted, a wide enough margin to show that Gov. Gavin Newsom easily beat back the attempts to oust him from office.

But not enough votes have been counted to run the conclusive analyses that political analysts are hungry for, including: At what levels did Latino voters and young people turn out? What happened in rural areas? And what do the results mean for California’s hotly contested U.S. House seats?

Out of the more than 9.1 million votes tabulated as of Wednesday, nearly 64% supported keeping Newsom in office. The Associated Press estimates that about 13 million people voted, meaning as many as 4 million ballots are still uncounted — making a granular analysis of voter behavior or demographics almost impossible.

That hasn’t stopped analysts from trying, though. Political analysts in Washington are already disagreeing over whether the recall results are a warning sign for California Republicans or a sign that they could hold onto, or even add to, their U.S. House seats in the midterms next year.

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Higher vaccination rates correlated with higher support for Gov. Newsom in the recall election, and vice versa, analysis of voting data shows.

Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House seat expert for the Cook Political Report, said that the recall is “on track to prevail in a handful of competitive House districts,” including in Orange County.

Two of the four battleground Congressional seats that Republicans flipped in California last year are in Orange County, where about 47% of counted ballots were in favor of the recall. How much stronger support was in some areas of the county — including districts won by Reps. Young Kim (R-La Habra) and Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach) — is still being tabulated.

The recall failing by as much as 20 points statewide, Wasserman wrote on Twitter, could still be consistent with “an environment in which Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2022.”

“There are a lot more Democrats than Republicans in California,” Wasserman said. But, he added, Republicans don’t need to win in districts that favored Biden by 29 percentage points in order to “win back Congress in 2022.”

One Washington Post columnist said Kim should be “worried” based on the pattern from the recall. And the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that the Republican Party’s message went “down in flames” with California voters.

“The Republican message is failing badly in swing districts,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York) said in a press call Wednesday.

In early Orange County results, Newsom leads the recall by about 45,000 votes. But more than 200,000 votes still need to be tabulated, including at least 51,730 received by mail and almost 70,000 that were dropped in collection boxes, the Orange County registrar of voters said.

That makes an accurate analysis of voter behavior in the 39th and 48th congressional districts difficult, too.

More accurate estimates from each of California’s 58 counties will be reported to Secretary of State Shirley Weber on Thursday night, state officials said.

Out of the more than 9.1 million votes tabulated as of early Wednesday, nearly 64% were in favor of keeping Gov. Gavin Newsom in office.

Nearly 71% of Los Angeles County voters whose ballots have been processed, or about 1.6 million voters, opted against the recall, state data show. Elections chief Dean Logan estimated that nearly 275,000 ballots still need to be processed, including about 255,000 mail-in ballots.

In some counties, the AP estimates that as many of half of ballots have yet to be processed and returned. That includes Mendocino and Yuba counties, where the recall is ahead, and Kern County, which has reported just 42% of its expected ballot total.

In Riverside County, about 52.4% of counted ballots were against the recall, giving Newsom a lead of about 24,000 votes. But more than 200,000 ballots remain to be counted, of which about 5,000 are provisional ballots and 200,000 were sent by mail, the Riverside County registrar of voters said.

In San Bernardino County, where Newsom has a lead of about 15,000 votes, about 146,000 ballots are yet to be counted. That includes 143,000 mail ballots and 2,900 provisional ballots, officials said.

There are 310,000 ballots outstanding in California’s second-most populous county, local elections officials in San Diego said. Nearly 59% of votes counted there so far were opposed to the recall.


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