From Cal problems:
First, voters were asked if they wanted to give the incumbent a boot. Then, in the second question, they were asked who would be the replacement. Under California law, incumbents cannot replace themselves.
If more than 50% of voters choose “yes” to the recall question, whoever ranks first on the replacement list will immediately be hired as the next chief executive of the state. That’s where things can get weird. In a crowded field with no clear leader, finishing first could mean getting less than 50% of the vote.
It may even mean much less support than the ousted incumbent. …
A more recent example shows how bizarre a recollection of California is.
In 2016, Democratic Sen. Josh Newman won a seat in a longstanding GOP stronghold in northern Orange County. In the summer of 2018, Republicans and anti-tax advocates perform a recall campaign on Newman’s support for the state’s gas tax increase. A mass of conservative voters emerged, Democrats did not, and Newman was replaced by Ling Ling Chang of the Republican Party.
During that race, 66,197 voters, or 42%, opposed the withdrawal and supported Newman. Chang, running with five other candidates, received 50,215 fewer votes, but still won the seat with 34%. In the next regularly scheduled election in 2020, Newman reclaimed his seat.
A field crowded and disorganized enough could produce similar results in the 2021 recall race.