California voters aren’t in a hurry to dump Governor Gavin Newsom, and they’re even less enthusiastic about any of Republican candidates who’ve tossed their MAGA hats into the recall ring, according to a new survey by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
The recall poll found that just 36 percent of registered voters favor removing Newsom, while 49 percent are opposed, showing that his overall negative rating hasn’t budged since Berkeley conducted the same poll in January, while his support has risen 4 points from 45 percent in that time. Newsom’s job approval scored 52 percent, which is a slight improvement over January, but it’s plummeted from September’s high of 64 percent.
Pollsters attribute the deep dip to what many voters consider Newsom’s uninspired handling of homelessness, the housing crisis, and crime.
“Most of his decline appears to have been about the pandemic and now that we’re emerging out of that, voters are giving the governor generally better marks on the pandemic,” poll director Mark DiCamillo tells the Times. “He still doesn’t have great job performance numbers. If the focus then shifts away from the pandemic to the other issues facing the state, he’s gonna have some work cut out for himself.”
However, if GOP hopefuls think that slip opens a door for them to slide into Golden State leadership, they might want to check their optimism.
San Diego ex-Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 2018 gubernatorial loser John Cox—whose “Meet the Beast” campaign raised more awareness about animal cruelty than his candidacy—each have the supports of only 22 percent of respondents, with former Northern California congressman Doug Ose getting just 14 percent.
The worst news was reserved for Caitlyn Jenner, whose recent thoughts on homelessness and private airplane ownership baffled many. Only six percent of voters said they’d cast their ballot for her.
“Even among Republicans, only 13 percent say they’d be inclined to vote for her,” DiCamillo told the paper. “It’s a very poor showing.”
Another factor Newsom has going for him is California’s $75.5 billion budget surplus, some of which he wants to spread by issuing $600 stimulus checks and launching a $7 billion rent relief program. While Newsom touts it as the biggest tax rebate of any state in U.S. history, opponents have nicknamed it the “recall refund.”
With 15 percent of voters still undecided, only about a third of Democrats have a high interest in the recall while 75 percent of Republicans are psyched for it. That disparity is something Newsom should keep an eye on, says one pollster.
“Newsom benefits from the improving situation with the pandemic, but there are still some warning signs—the low interest of Democratic voters and the substantial number of undecided voters,” Berkeley IGS co-director Eric Schickler tells the Times. “But the governor is now in better shape and is helped by the absence of a compelling GOP alternative.”