Los Angeles flexes its political muscle in the recall

More than 70% of county voters reject attempt to boot Gov. Gavin Newsom, exceeding statewide level

election-day voting illustration


Long before people began casting ballots in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election, it was clear that Los Angeles County would play a pivotal role, and not just for the money that can be raised in the region. After all, the 5.7 million registered voters in the county represents more than 25% of the total voters in the state. 


This presented a sizable opportunity to help Gov. Gavin Newsom keep his seat, as 53% of county voters are registered Democrats, while just 17% identify as Republicans. (Another almost 24% expressed no party preference.)


Los Angeles indeed showed up. Approximately 2.25 million local voters cast ballots, and 70.8% of them said No to the recall, according to data from the office of the Secretary of State (the numbers will change slightly, as approximately 274,000 L.A. County ballots remain to be tabulated). The county result exceeded the statewide 63.7% of voters who rejected the proposal.

Pie chart of LA County recall election results

The nearly 1.6 million county voters who shot down the recall made up 27.4% of the approximately 5.8 million No votes in California tabulated on the night of the election. 


More than 650,000 county residents voted to remove Newsom from office before his term finishes next year. That accounted for just 19.9% of the 3.35 million Yes votes across the state (again, as of election night). 


Much has been made of radio host Larry Elder receiving 46.9% of the vote among people who filled out the second question on the ballot—that involved choosing which of 45 candidates would take over if Newsom had been booted. However, many Democrats skipped question two entirely. Elder’s 2.37 million votes works out to the support of 26% of the 9.1 million Californians whose votes were counted on Tuesday night.


Just as Newsom overperformed in Los Angeles County compared with his standing in the state as a whole, Elder, the self-described “Sage of South Central,” underperformed. The approximately 498,000 local votes Elder received works out to the support of just 22% of county residents who hit the polls.


How we did it: We examined data from the office of the California Secretary of State, accessing voter roll information and the results of the Sept. 14, 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election. We also used data from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.


Have questions about our data? Contact us at askus@xtown.la.