California enters next week’s historic recall election besieged by crises: massive wildfires, a drought forcing water rationing and a resurgent pandemic filling hospitals. Oddly enough, they all may help Governor Gavin Newsom keep his job.

Polls show the Democrat prevailing in the Sept. 14 recall, beating back a mostly Republican field of challengers. If Newsom wins, the same crises his opponents used as campaign issues against him likely will have helped cement his victory. Voters beset by calamities may be unwilling to take a chance on his challengers, most of whom have never held elected office.

“The fires, drought, power outages — all of the bad news in California requires some experience in Sacramento, and that message seems to be resonating,” said David McCuan, chairman of the political science department at Sonoma State University. “It looks like they’ve had a security-blanket effect with voters.”

The prospect of disaster has always loomed over Newsom, who since taking office in 2019 has faced record-setting wildfires, the bankruptcy of the state’s largest utility and an unrelenting pandemic. The election is now happening in a crisis scenario that Democratic leaders had hoped to avoid, and yet it may work in the governor’s favor.

A poll released Friday by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies showed momentum growing. About 60.1% of likely voters said they would reject the recall, according to a poll of about 10,000 registered voters conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. That’s up from about 50% six weeks ago.

The situation could easily have gone otherwise. Last week, South Lake Tahoe — a family vacation spot beloved among generations of Californians — narrowly escaped destruction in the sprawling Caldor Fire, which had already erased several smaller communities in its path. Had the town burned, public anger could have found a ready target in the governor.

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