Gov. Newsom may beat California recall, new poll shows

California Governor Recall

Approximately 60% of likely voters said they opposed recalling Gov. Newsom, the poll found.

SACRAMENTO (INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) – It appears Gov. Gavin Newsom may survive the upcoming recall election, according to a University of California Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Friday.

Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, the poll found 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom, compared with 38.5% in favor of recalling the governor.

According to the poll, fewer than 2% of likely voters remained undecided or declined to answer.

The poll of more than 6,500 likely voters was conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. The margin of error is +/- 2%.

“The tide of likely voter preferences in this year’s gubernatorial recall election has turned,” said an analysis that accompanied the new poll results.

At the time the latest poll was conducted, nearly 4 in 10 of the likely voters said they had already voted, giving Newsom “a substantial lead,” the poll revealed.

A similar Berkeley IGS poll conducted in late July found likely voters were split over the recall, with 47% voting yes and 50% voting no.

If Newsom is recalled, the latest IGS poll found Larry Elder in the lead to replace him, with 38% of voters saying they’d vote for Elder. Kevin Paffrath came in next at 10%, with Kevin Faulconer following at 8% and John Cox and Kevin Kiley rounding out the race, both at 4%. A total 16% of voters were undecided and another 20% scattered preferences among the other 41 candidates.

Recent polling by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California on the critical first question in the recall – whether to remove Newsom – found those supporting his ouster at just 39%. That figure is roughly in line with the vote share for GOP candidates in recent statewide races — in 2018, no Republicans seeking top offices were able to break 40% of the vote — suggesting that represents a ceiling for Republicans and conservative-leaning moderates and independents.

Mail-in ballots went to all 22 million registered voters in mid-August.

In the recall, voters are asked two questions: Should Newsom be removed? And, if so, who should replace him?

Why exactly is there a recall drive against Newsom? The answer is simple and complicated: Californians grew angry over a difficult year. Whipsaw pandemic lockdowns, crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered schools and the disruption of daily life soured just about everybody. 

The complicated part: In a state with nearly 40 million people, there are many grievances, from California’s wallet-sapping taxes to a raging homelessness crisis. As governor, Newsom became a target for that resentment. 

Newsom, who was elected in a 2018 landslide, sees the recall as an attack on California’s progressive policies. 

The recall is backed by state and national Republicans, but organizers argue they have a broad-based coalition, including many independents and Democrats.

Organizers in the anti-recall effort say they are concerned about voter turnout, even though there are almost twice as many Californians who are registered as Democrats compared to registered Republicans.

It’s not uncommon in California for residents to seek recalls but they rarely get on the ballot – and even fewer succeed.

A sitting governor has been ousted just once in the state, when unpopular Democrat Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenneger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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