Recall backers also claimed a measure of victory.
“We were David against Goliath — we were the Alamo,” said Mike Netter, one of a handful of Tea Party Republican activists whose anger at Mr. Newsom’s opposition to the death penalty, his embrace of undocumented workers and his deep establishment roots helped inspire the attempted ouster.
Just gathering the nearly 1.5 million signatures necessary to trigger the special election was “a historic accomplishment,” Mr. Heatlie said.
The recall campaign, the two men said, had expanded the small cadre that began the effort into a statewide coalition of 400,000 members who are already helping to push ballot proposals to fund school vouchers, forbid vaccine mandates in schools, and abolish public employee unions, which have been a longstanding Democratic force in California.
Other Republicans, however, called the recall a grave political miscalculation. About one-quarter of the state’s registered voters are Republicans, and their numbers have been dwindling since the 1990s, a trend that recall proponents believed might be reversed if they could somehow flip the nation’s biggest state.
Tuesday’s defeat instead marked “another nail in the coffin,” said Mike Madrid, a California Republican strategist who has been deeply critical of the party under Mr. Trump, charging in particular that the G.O.P. has driven away Latino voters.
Mr. Madrid said the recall signified that, even in California, Mr. Trump’s party had become part of “an increasingly radical, exercised and shrinking Republican base, lashing out in different ways in different parts of the country.” He took note of the voter fraud accusations that some in his party began to make well before the polls closed, echoing Mr. Trump, who claimed without evidence that Democrats had “rigged” the recall election.
Despite the yawning gap in support, for example, Mr. Elder demanded this week, before the voting was finished, that a special legislative session be called “to investigate and ameliorate the twisted results.” He said there had been “instances of undocumented ballots” but provided no examples.