As the the summer began, most surveys indicated that Governor Gavin Newsom would ride the end of the pandemic to an easy win in a potential recall election, but with that election now just two months away, the latest numbers show it’s even money whether he’ll make it or not.
A new poll by U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies and cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times finds that 47 percent of likely voters support recalling Newsom while 50 percent would vote to keep him in office—a difference that is within the study’s margin of error, Politico reports.
While the poll found that 51 percent of all registered voters in the state are against the recall and just 36 percent support it, the authors note that “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.”
The pollsters found that Republicans are far more likely to turn out for the September 14 recall than Democrats or No Party voters, which could spell Newsom’s political demise unless he can get more supporters to turn out than currently express an interest.
One factor working against Newsom is the assumption among Democrats that he’ll slide to an easy victory, “which may be fostering greater complacency among recall opponents than among supporters,” the authors write. The ballots themselves may also work against Newsom.
According to the pollsters, “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.”
The recent COVID spike that brought back mask mandates to L.A. and elsewhere across the state, along with a slew of Delta-related closures and cancelations, are also contributing to Newsom’s constricting prospects—and it’s not helping that his own clerical carelessness has prevented him from being listed as a Democrat on the ballots.
On the Republican front, 24 of the 46 contenders are party members and the poll finds conservative talk show host Larry Elder leading the pack with 18 percent support among likely voters, followed by businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who each scored 10 percent. No one else in that collection of candidates has broken the two-digit ceiling so far, including Olympian reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who’s got just 3 percent backing her run.
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