This past week we saw not one, not two, but several states move forward and lift all COVID restrictions on their states. Texas, ever the beacon of personal liberty and freedom, went first and removed all restrictions on businesses and lifted its mask mandate. Mississippi was close behind and lifted all their restrictions and mask mandate as well. In a shocking move, Connecticut will be moving to remove all capacity restrictions in the next couple of weeks. Mind you, Connecticut is a Democrat-controlled state, so this truly was a surprise move. Other states such as Arizona and Wyoming followed behind as well. It appears the dominoes are starting to fall.
These states join other states like South Dakota and Florida which have been operating as normal. South Dakota never shut down and never required anyone to wear a mask. As Governor Noem said in her speech to CPAC, she believed the government’s role was to inform the people and let them make their own decisions. Governor DeSantis has become a bit of a conservative rock star in openly defying the calls from the White House and the media to “listen to the science” and keep all the restrictions in place. A Wall Street Journal article even went so far as to say Governor DeSantis was vindicated for his actions.
This is good news as states are starting to make their own decisions and move forward with reopening their states on their own timelines, not ones dictated by the Biden Administration. It is a win for federalism and states’ rights.
While it is good news for those states, here in California we are still struggling with Governor Newsom’s ever-changing dictates and color-coded chart of confusion on when and how to open. If this reopening craze begins to gain momentum, how long until California follows suit?
It is easy to say that California will probably be a last holdout. Newsom governs a state with a majority of registered Democrats, who mostly all dutifully follow the orders and musings of Dr. Fauci. Why would Newsom have any incentive to open the state when his state is full of supporters who believe in staying locked down until there are no more cases of COVID?
Well, a couple of things could certainly play into a reopening timeline for California. If we were to play Vegas oddsmaker, there are certain markers on determining the over/under of when California will likely push for full reopening. So let’s play bookie for a minute and set the Over/Under for California reopening shall we?
The most crucial factor must be the recall. At this point, organizers are saying they are closing in on 2 million signatures, with days still to go. The more signatures gathered gives the organizers a cushion to ensure that our new Secretary of State Shirley Weber cannot play any games with the signatures to whittle it down below the required amount. As of right now, the Governor should be worried, but not overly preoccupied with the recall. However, this all changes if the recall is certified and set for a special election.
If the recall goes to the ballot and there is an election, expect things to change dramatically for Governor Newsom. In a recent poll conducted of likely voters by the Faulconer campaign, it found 47% of voters would vote to recall Newsom as opposed to 43% of those who would not. More concerning for Newsom is that the poll showed 26% of registered Democrats would vote to recall him. That is very concerning for a Governor who runs a dark blue state. It shows that his base is fracturing and that he cannot rely on Democrats to buoy him past the recall question. I would not be surprised if that number continues to grow as time goes on and California remains under strict lockdown.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, the looming recall has had an impact on how he governs. Out of nowhere, he did away with the Stay at Home orders, even though we didn’t meet his self-imposed guidelines for rescinding it. No explanation was given, but many could read between the margins and see as the recall gained steam, he started to back off lockdowns. Even now, more and more counties are hurtling towards lowered tiers.
But the recall isn’t the only thing that will affect California being fully reopen. Imagine if states like New York and New Jersey (who are geographically close to now open Connecticut) remove all restrictions? If New York (a state with a governor facing his own problems) were to reopen fully and lift all restrictions, how much pressure does that put on California to follow suit? How about our neighbors to the north in Oregon and Washington? Newsom can write off Texas and Mississippi like he did by calling them “reckless” because they are red states, but will he call New York reckless as well? If dark blue states start accelerating their reopening, what reason will Newsom give to remain closed?
The last factor is something Newsom himself likes to tout regularly, and that is our rapidly declining numbers. I have said before, Newsom cannot both take credit for the falling numbers and then turn around and lecture people on why they need to remain locked down. His own numbers show that COVID is on its way out (maybe not forever, but to a point that it is no longer an epidemic). With spring and summer coming up, COVID numbers will likely drop even further. Will he take a victory lap and say he squashed the virus? And if he does, do the people of his state get to enjoy that victory? If we are all in this together, we should be enjoying the spoils of victory over this virus as well.
Finally, the X Factor in all this of course is Dr. Fauci. What if Dr. Fauci were to come out in a couple of months and say hey we have reached a point where we see enough people are vaccinated and positive cases are at such a level that we are no longer concerned with this? This only increases the pressure since Saint Fauci himself said it is ok to return to normal on Newsom to fully reopen.
There are a lot of factors that will go into how fast California follows Texas’s lead, but in my humble opinion, they are all against Newsom at the moment. My prediction in the over/under of when he will fully reopen? About one month after the recall election is certified and scheduled.
Photo via iStock/Washington Post illustration