2020 primary election results and 2020 general elections had a very distinct result pattern. President Trump won 48 of the 58 California counties over President Biden who won only 10 in the Primary when it came to the number of counties in a head to head match up. However, in the 2020 general election President Biden won 36 and President Trump won 22 counties.  Also, President Trump got three times more votes in 2020 primary run than President Obama got in 2012.  (Article link)  Looking into county level vote numbers, the difference between the candidates is between the primary and general elections is massive in percentage comparison.  In the primary, Trump was the candidate who got the highest votes of 30% (2.4M), with Bernie at 28%(2M) , Biden at 21%(1.8M) of the total 6.8M primary votes. In General, Biden got 66% (8.1M) to Trump (4.2M) 34% of the total 12.3M votes.  Governor Newsome, got 2.3M votes to become the governorn in his run. Another way to see this is 2.3M people put the effort and threw their support for him to become the Governor.

At the bare minimum, one can anticipate the 2.4M Republican primary voters may show up for the recall as they have voted in an election their vote was absolutely inconsequential because Trump was running unopposed.  There is a high chance the Republican 4.2M general election voter "could" show up as again, there vote, they knew would be absolutely inconsequential but still came out to vote. The worst case scenario for Larry Elder is that he gets less than 2.4M primary votes that Trump got. However, this is highly unlike because the campaign for recall already got 2M, so the safest assumption is that Larry should be able to get to atleast 2.4M.   This would be Larry Elder's decent case scenario which is still   more votes Gavin Newson got to win his Governor race in 2018. The best case scenario for Larry Elder is all of the 4.2M Trump general election Voters + a percentage of the disgruntled Democrat (8.1M) Biden voters which will be twice as many who voted Gary Newsome to his governorship +  the Never Trumper Republican's votes against Newsom.

Worst Case Scenario for Larry Elder

Votes for Larry Elder = Enthusiastic 2.4 Trump Primary Voters (Matches the recall numbers

Votes For Larry Elder = All of Trumps 4.2M Voters + x%*8.1M (Biden/Bernie Supporters (unhappy with Newsom + Never Trumper Republican Voters)

From the above table if there are 12.5% of motivated to go to the polls Biden Voters plus Never Trumper Republican's who are unhappy with Newsom, then Larry Elder gains 1M more votes. If 25% (1/4th) of the same group show up, then it is 2M more votes from that block.  So the best case scenario for Larry Elder is he gets to motivate everyone who voted for Trump to vote for him and 25% of the disgruntle voters from the other side show up to give him 6M, which is twice as many people voted for Newsom 2 years ago.

So where is the biggest point of concern for Newsom and greatest hope to turn up support for Larry based on the Primary and General elections?  In the Primary elections, Trump won 33 counties over Biden/Bernie showing the most motivated Republican counties.  The top 10 counties would be Orange, Riverside, Kern, Fresno, Placer, Stanislaus, San Luis, Obispo, Tulare, Shasta.

Counties where Trump got over 100K votes  in California which could help Larry Elder.  How many of these counties are going to come out to vote for Larry Elder is something depends on how well the campaign is going to raise awareness (either by the Democrats in their worry of losing) about the election itself but also in selling the idea of voting for a him?

For Democrats, they have Los Angeles. The county that is poster child of Governor Newsom's failure, but yet has the highest number of voter's that vote Democrat.  They have the biggest buffer because it did not change how LA voted in the 2020 election.  Gov Newsom won, LA county by 33% of the votes.  Of the total voting population based on 2020, elections that would amount for 1M votes from there.

Using the chart above, one can map out where Gov Newsom, the counties that he well in his election.

Gov. Newsom, won his election over Cox by a small margin of 8pts of the overall votes. He got 33.8% of the votes, while Mr. Cox got 25.5%.  He won with a margin ranging from 58% to 29% of the votes in the following 23 counties Alameda , Alpine, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo. He has to pull votes again from these counties or Larry Elder support has to come out more from these counties to blunt out the impact of big counties like LA and Almeda.  

A hypothetical analysis mapping the President Biden's 11M vote number with the percentage of votes Gov Newsom got in his Governor's race 2 years ago, gives him around 3.9M votes assuming that everyone of Biden's voters and the same % of people who liked Newson in 2018 still liked his stint until now as governor.  The above is just a sampling of only the counties that he won in 2018 with the percentage he won it by.  So the highest, based on these assumptions could be 3.9M, the lowest maybethe number of people who voted for in 2018 which is 2.3M, which means that those 2.3M people still like the direction is Gov. Newsom is taking since 2018.

These anaylsis were based on the presidential election numbers (19M), which is 1/3 the size of the 2018 governor's race which was at 6M.  For the Democrat party, if 1/3rd population size of the 6M wish to recall a governor, it is really a troubling image to live down.  Things the Democrat party have really asking themselves is ..

  1. How did the leadership of the party have not seen this coming?
  2. If they did see it coming, why did they not change course earlier than the recall efforts came to fruitition?
  3. If governor elections are won with 1/3rd size of the presidential elections, would a massive recall effort and vote have an impact of future elections?
  4. A more troubling impact of the 2M vote strong recall effort, is that it has helped organize the opposition at the grass root level. How do they anticipate to counter that in the next governor's election.

Finally, if the election maps closer to the 2020 Primary Elections, Larry Elder could possibly have a pretty decent change with the total voting being in same range of the primary or the 2018 governor's race.  If the election maps closer to the 2020 General elections, Governor Newsom, increase his 2018 vote support by atleast 1.6M, which makes it difficult for Larry Elder.

Author's Note:  If you want to use this article as a coffee break conversation starter or an ice breaker, then there is plenty of relevant information (election result numbers within the margin of error) and realistic assumptions with limited dependencies included into the analysis.

This hypothetical analysis is based on past trends and certain data driven assumptions. One of the biggest omission is the impact of mail-in ballots, for which other than the 2020 presidential elections, there is no precedence in the governors race. We also have ignored the impact of several other candidates in the current recall race and focusing on only these 2 candidates. So the analysis is not complete by any means as it lacks the granularity. It provides some insight at a very high level to assess what "could" be couple of  possible outcome out of the 1000's of outcomes.  Please read to be informed but there needs to additional due dilligence on the readers part to futher analyze what is claimed here if you want to make any serious decisions based on it.

Related References: 2016 California Primary Election Story, 2020 California Primary Election Story 2016 NYT California Primary Results