If the likely election to recall embattled California Gov. Gavin Newsom were held today, a new poll suggests the first-term Democrat would survive.
Fifty-six percent of Golden State adults questioned in a Public Policy Institute of California survey released late Tuesday say they’d vote to keep Newsom in office, with four-in-ten saying they’d vote to oust the governor from office.
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Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats say they support keeping Newsom as governor, with an equal number of Republicans backing his ouster. Independent voters, by a 53%-42% margin, say they’d vote to keep the governor in office rather than recall him.
“Democrats currently have a large advantage over Republicans in voter registration, which explains why recall support falls well short of the majority needed to remove the governor,” PPI president and CEO Mark Baldassare highlighted.
Baldassare noted that “the share who would now vote to remove the governor is similar to the 38% who did not vote for Newsom in the fall of 2018,” when Newsom easily won the race to succeed retiring two-term Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in the deep blue state.
The recall push was launched last June over charges the governor mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The effort was fueled by the state’s COVID restrictions on businesses and houses of worship, school shutdowns and even opposition to the state’s high taxes. But the effort surged in the autumn after Newsom’s dinner at a uber-exclusive restaurant, which – at best – skirted rules imposed by the governor to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
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Republicans see the recall election as their best chance to topple a politician who’s never lost an election during his years as San Francisco mayor, California lieutenant governor and now governor – and their first chance to win a statewide contest since moderate GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 reelection victory.
Recall organizers touted that they collected more than 2 million voter signatures– far more than the 1.5 million valid signatures needed to get a recall election on the ballot later this year. The petition signatures were turned over nearly two weeks ago to the registrars in California’s 58 counties. Those counties now have until April 29 to verify the signatures. The election will likely be held sometime in November.
According to the new poll, 53% of likely voters in California approve of the job Newsom’s doing as governor. That’s basically unchanged from PPI’s previous poll, which was conducted in January. But it’s down from his 65% peak last May, when Newsom’s approval ratings jumped in the first couple of months after the pandemic swept the nation. Similar to the recall question, there’s also a large partisan divide over the job Newsom’s doing in office.
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Baldassare spotlighted the importance of the governor’s approval rating when it comes to his ability to survive a recall election.
“While Newsom’s approval rating has fallen from the record-high levels reached after COVID-19 struck, it has remained in positive territory—importantly, he consistently has a solid majority of support among Democratic likely voters,” he said.
The governor is attempting to characterize the recall as an attack by Republicans and a continuation of the deep partisanship experienced during the 2020 election. Also, unlike Democratic Gov. Gray Davis who in 2003 didn’t take the eventually successful recall effort against him seriously at first, Newsom is already fighting back.
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“I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall — but I will fight it,” Newsom tweeted earlier this month.
The PPI of California poll was conducted March 14-23, with 1,706 California adults questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.