OAKLAND – Governor Gavin Newsom is in a strong position to thwart a likely recall vote, according to a new poll of California voters.
A double-digit majority of likely voters said they would vote to keep Newsom. 56 percent said they would keep him, up from 40 percent who want to throw out the Democratic governor, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California released Tuesday evening.
The positive poll backs Newsom’s argument that a recall triggered by pandemic fatigue will stall in democratic California. While efforts to oust him have not yet officially qualified for the vote, the chances are overwhelmingly that they will stand before voters in the fall. Newsom has launched a campaign in his defense and has begun targeting national democratic figures, including Sen. Bernie SandersSen. Elizabeth Warren and proxy attorney Stacey Abrams.
Overall, Newsom has an approval rating of 53 percent, down from its peak of 65 percent in May 2020. That includes 77 percent approval from Democrats and a slight lead among non-party voters, a growing constituency that accounts for a quarter of voters and supports Newsom 49 Percent to 46 percent.
If Newsom can keep his position in the polls, then another Democrat feeling vulnerable is less likely to break his ranks and choose to act as a backup, which in turn could undermine Newsom’s support and increase the likelihood that he will be called back. Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, said Newsom needed to maintain Democratic support, as former Governor Gray Davis failed to enlist on the way to voters who called him back in 2003.
“The key is the governor’s ability to maintain his base,” said Baldassare. “That voted him in 2018 and that will be the key to his survival in 2021.”
Resistance to the recall efforts spanned several demographics. An overwhelming 64-point Democratic majority said they would vote in favor of Newsom’s protection, reflecting the party’s hegemony in California, as did an 11-point majority of the independent electoral bloc, which comprises a quarter of California’s voters. Newsom enjoyed plurality support in all regions of the state except the more conservative Central Valley, with towering margins in the populous Bay Area and Los Angeles.
The survey also found that both Latinos and people with children in their households prefer to hold Newsom by 20 points. Parent support could be vital as Newsom is deeply frustrated with lengthy school closings. Voters strongly endorsed a recently passed law that will raise billions in funding for schools that welcome students.
Despite electoral support for Newsom, a clear majority support the recall process and consider the challenge for Newsom to be “appropriate”. This could tarnish the efforts of Newsom and Democratic allies to portray the recall as a cynical abuse of power. California Democratic Party leader Rusty Hicks has already received backlash for calling the effort a “coup” akin to the siege of the US Capitol.
An improving coronavirus situation should boost Newsom’s reputation. The majority of voters believe America’s worst pandemic is behind and were less concerned about being hospitalized, although a majority continued to object to vaccine distribution. And while most voters said California was in recession, 60 percent said they weren’t concerned about rent or mortgage payments.
Newsom and allies have tried to undercut the recall by highlighting California’s progress in fighting the coronavirus and announcing a state aid package that will channel money to struggling individuals and businesses. In a promising sign for Newsom, 70 percent of voters said they supported the aid.