A New Poll Shows Energized Dems and Larry Elder Could Help Newsom Breeze Through the Recall

In the homestretch, likely voters who want to keep California’s current governor in office far outnumber those who want him out

With just the weekend and a groggy Monday left until the September 14 recall election, a new poll indicates that Governor Gavin Newsom will defeat the attempted ouster, and analysts say he’s got radio’s Larry Elder to thank for it.

According to the U.C. Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies survey released Friday, cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times, 60.1 percent of likely voters oppose recalling Newsom while 38.5 percent want him gone. Unlike previous tallies, this one found only 2 percent of respondents remain undecided.

A late July Berkeley poll showed voters were almost evenly split on the issue, with 47 percent in favor of jilting Newsom and 50 percent choosing to keep him around. But, since then, conservative talk show host Elder has continued to lead the collection of 46 would-be governors in poll after poll—scoring 38 percent this time compared to just 18 percent in July, while Democratic YouTube real estate whiz Kevin Paffrath came in second with 10 percent, and Caitlyn Jenner barely reaching the finish line with 1 percent.

Team Newsom has been portraying the recall effort as an underhanded attempt to infect the Golden State with “Trumpism,” and having a bona fide GOP boogeyman like Elder providing a stark contrast to Newsom in the closing weeks has been a real boon.

“In the early going it was probably more about whether they liked Newsom or not. It was personalized,” poll director Mark DiCamillo tells the Times. “By attacking his challenger, which is Elder, and framing it as ‘Look at what you’ll get if you vote for this guy’… I think that really won the day.”

By the standards of California politics, Elder has turned out to be an accomplished gaff machine. For instance, he’s promised to immediately repeal all mask and vaccine mandates; has said he wants noted xenophobe Stephen Miller to be president; been forced to deny brandishing a gun at his ex-fiancée while stoned; and is of the opinion that zero dollars an hour is a fine minimum wage.

The poll reflects strong voter reluctance to bring all that to Sacramento, with 65 percent of them—including 89 percent of likely Democratic voters and 64 percent of independents—saying that an ultra-right wing Republican governor would put the state’s progressive policies on climate change, immigration, healthcare, and abortion at risk.

“It’s changed the whole dynamic of the vote,” DiCamillo tells the Times. “It’s raised fear among voters and I think that fear has increased the engagement of Democrats.”

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