The polls show Newsom surviving the recall, but a bizarrely timed mid-September election and an unmotivated Democratic base could easily swing this thing to some nobody Republican with miniscule support.  

A Democrat beating a Republican in a statewide California race is as sure a thing as the sun rising in the east. But Gavin Newsom is not tasked with beating a Republican in the September 14 recall election, he is tasked with getting more than 50% of voters to vote No on the question “Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (replaced) from the office of Governor?” And in an off-year, off-month, single-issue election where Donald Trump is not on the ballot, Politico reports that Democrats are terrified with turnout concerns.

They point to a granular follow-up question in a CBS News-YouGov poll from last week, which showed Newsom at 57% approval. What, him worry? Yes he should be and is. In the follow-up question, only 26% of those who identified as Biden voters said they were following the recall election “Very Closely,” but 46% of Trump voters were following it very closely. Sure, the Trumpers are a smaller pool. But that, my friends, is still a significant enthusiasm gap.  

“I think he pulls it out,” former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Político. “But it’s going to be close. It shouldn’t be. But it’s going to be very, very close because Republicans are animated, and we’re not.”

The wild-card here is the mail-in ballot. Obviously, polling places are going to feel like a morgue on September 14, with only one issue on the ballot during an unusually timed Election Day. But mail-in ballots could help Democrats reach their normal turnout levels, and who knows, maybe some Trumpers are still extremely mistrustful of mail-in ballots. We can only speculate, as this election represents completely unchartered territory.

“We don’t know what world we’re in,” vote-by-mail analyst Paul Mitchell, told Politico. “We might think we know something, but we don’t even know what universe we’re in.”

Related: Recall Candidate Larry Elder Faces Probe Over Unreported Income [SFist]

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 02: California Gov. Gavin Newsom pauses during a news conference after touring Barron Park Elementary School on March 02, 2021 in Palo Alto, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a reopened elementary school a day after he announced a $6.6 billion school reopening agreement with the State legislature. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)