But beneath the positive exterior for Democrats, there are some fairly clear warning signs for President Joe Biden and his party ahead of the 2022 elections.
This worked well for Newsom, as voters’ feelings of Biden were quite predictive of how they voted on the recall. “No” won 93% of those who approved, while “yes” on the recall won 89% of those who disapproved.
Put another way, his net favorability (favorable minus unfavorable) rating of +30 points a year ago became a +19-point net approval rating this year. Similarly, the exit poll itself showed that recall voters said they voted for Biden by a 26-point margin last year, which is 7 points higher than his net approval rating.
That is, Biden’s net ratings nationally seem to have taken somewhere in the neighborhood of a high-single digit to a 10-point drop since the election.
Nothing in the California results indicates that the national polls are greatly underestimating Biden’s popularity.
More worrisome for Democrats is that the same factor that helped Newsom (Biden’s standing) in California has a pretty good chance of biting them in 2022 if we’re dealing with a similarly feeling electorate a year from now.
Assuming Democrats get about 90% of the pro-Biden vote and lose about 90% of the anti-Biden vote nationwide, it would mean they would very likely lose the national House vote. This would probably mean an easy victory for Republicans in the House.
Ahead of 2022, Republicans need only a five-seat gain in the House to win control, and they lost the national House vote by 3 points in 2020. Even the slightest movement toward the Republicans from 2020 would likely mean good things for them.
Don’t be surprised if that pattern holds up a year from now. If Biden continues to be underperforming his 2020 standing in surveys, Democrats will suffer at the polls.