Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a much closer fight to keep his job ahead of the Sept. 14 California recall election.
That is according to a new University of California Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll which found among voters most likely to cast ballots in the election, Newsom faces a nearly 50-50 chance of being recalled.
The poll said that’s because they expect a higher percentage of California Republicans in the election, and mostly all of them will vote to recall Newsom, a Democrat.
“At present 36% of the state’s registered voters say that if voting in the recall election they would vote Yes to recall the Governor, while 51% would vote No to retain him,” the Berkeley IGS study stated. “However, the election will be decided not by the overall electorate, but by only those who choose to take part in the recall. And, when the voting preferences of those considered most likely to participate are examined, the outcome becomes much closer, with 47% favoring Newsom’s recall and 50% favoring his retention. The main factor contributing to these very different distributions is that, if current levels of interest and voting intentions persist, turnout is likely to be far higher among Republicans than Democrats and No Party Preference voters. And, since nearly all Republicans favor Newsom’s ouster, a larger proportion of likely voters are voting Yes.”
Supporters of the recall are trying to oust Newsom over a litany of issues: the COVID-19 shutdowns, a controversial dinner at the French Laundry, high taxes, an explosion of crime in California cities, homelessness, and a decline in the state’s quality of life for many longtime residents.
Opponents characterized the recall as a Republican, Trump-backed power grab. But will Newsom’s supporters — most of them Democrats — come out to vote against the effort? The poll raises some doubt about whether they’ll come out.
“The higher GOP turnout is being driven by several factors,” the poll stated. “First, Republicans express far greater interest in voting in the recall election than Democrats or No Party Preference voters. Second, there is a widespread expectation among Democrats and No Party Preference voters that Newsom will defeat the recall which may be fostering greater complacency among recall opponents than among supporters. Third, voters in most jurisdictions will see only two questions on the recall ballot, the Yes/No vote on the Governor’s recall and who should replace Newsom if he were to be recalled. The very limited nature of the two-question ballot contrasts with other statewide elections in which voters are drawn to the polls by numerous state and local candidate and proposition races. And, when coupled with the fact that many more Democrats than Republicans report not intending to cast a vote on the question of the Governor’s replacement due to an absence of well-known Democratic candidates, this also appears to be giving GOP voters a greater incentive to participate.”
Dozens of Republican candidates are on the ballot to replace Newsom, including Olympic decathlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, former gubernatorial candidate John Cox, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and talk radio host Larry Elder.
Election day is Sept. 14.