Mayor Dianne Feinstein's overwhelming victory in the recall election here was not remarkable, but the method of achieving it was. Of the 127,043 ''no'' votes cast (against ousting the mayor), 45,343 were on absentee ballots, Monitor correspondent Leon Lindsay reports. Election officials said more than 70,000 absentee ballots were mailed out - twice the number sent out for any previous election. The mayor's absentee-ballot strategy was designed to offset an expected light turnout at the polls. Her 8-to-1 margin in the absentee vote actually increased what would have been a 3-1 sweep to a 4-1 triumph in Tuesday's vote. The unofficial totals were 29,289 for recall, 127,043 against.
San Francisco Registrar of Voters Jay Patterson said it seems likely future California candidates will copy the strategy, which took advantage of California's liberal law on distribution of absentee ballots. And those who sought the recall vote - a tiny Marxist-Leninist group objecting to the mayor's support of gun control - actually handed Mrs. Feinstein a head start in her bid to win a second term in November. She took advantage of voters' negative reaction to the recall vote and quickly recruited a large number of volunteer campaign workers and a $500,000 fund. In the end, she appeared to have convinced many that she has had impressive success in forging unity out of San Francisco's political and social diversity.