On Tuesday, a survey conducted by the U.C Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that Governor Gavin Newsom’s poll numbers have taken a sharp decline in recent months, with less than half of the state now approving of his leadership.
According to the survey, 36% of all registered voters said they would vote to remove Newsom from office, with only 45% opposing such a move. Only 31% said that he had done a good job handling the pandemic, with 23% saying he did a fair job and 43% saying it was a poor job.
Newsom’s approval rating, according to the Berkeley survey, now sits at only 45%, with more people disapproving of Newsom for the first time in his tenure. Only 5 months ago, Newsom was sitting on a 64% approval rating. But voter displeasure has skyrocketed dramatically since September after the Governor found himself embroiled in several controversies and gaffes. A botched vaccine rollout and a controversial school reopening plan have been the cause of approval dips in recent weeks, with the $31 billion EDD fraud incident and fallout from the statewide lockdown also bringing in more and more disgruntlement from voters. Personal lapses, particularly in regards with COVID-19 regulations, have brought him national and even international scorn. Most notably, he was found to have lied about attending a non-social distanced and non-mask party at an elite restaurant in November, despite him chastising Californians only days before for not following state guidelines.
“All of these transgressions are adding up now,” noted former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe. “We knew his support was much lower from the September poll, but we could only guestimate at what it was later since no hard poll data came out.
“Berkeley did a 10,000 person poll across the state with a 2% margin of error. Even if you gave him the best case, it still doesn’t look good. People are mad at him, and most critically, they’re ignoring the 24-hour news cycle and remembering all of these incidents. People are hurting with getting EDD accounts frozen and seeing their small businesses fail. They aren’t forgetting.
“The poll also shows that while there is a party divide on recalling him, that more and more Democrats are going against him now. For Newsom, that’s not good. He’s ignored the little guys throughout all of this, at least to voters, and it’s starting to show.
“I will say that COVID-19 would have been a challenge for any Governor. There have been a lot of tough decisions made in the past year. But, to voters, it seems like he’s going out of his way to screw something else up. And that’s not good for leadership confidence.”
A softening Democratic-voter divide
Among registered Democrats, 69% currently oppose recalling Newsom, with 71% saying that they still had confidence in his administration’s ability to slow it down. At the same time, around one-third either support or remain undecided about the recall, a critical percentage of people should the recall succeed.
Meanwhile, 84% of all Republicans support the recall, with only 7% opposing a recall. In addition, only 10% of Republicans still said they trusted Newsom’s administration to slow down the pandemic.
Independent voters, another critical faction for a recall vote, are split on Newsom. 40% oppose a recall, while 32% approve a recall. But on trust with Newsom to handle the pandemic, percentages were reversed. 50% of all independents didn’t trust Newsom’s handling, with only 43% approving of it. Compared to the September poll, independents are shown to be leaning further and further away from supporting him.
“People are reevaluating how well Newsom is doing handling the pandemic,” noted the director of the Berkeley poll Mark DiCamillo. “Once your job performance rating starts to decline, it’s more difficult to put it back in the right direction. You kind of accumulate negatives over time.”
“[Newsom is now] falling back to Earth.”
With Newsom’s popularity and approval declining, the growth of the number of people who oppose him has been fueling the recall movement against him. Since November, the number of voter signatures for the recall ballot have shot up exponentially. As of Tuesday, more than 1.3 million Californians have signed the petition to recall him, only a few hundred thousand shy of getting the required number and less than 500,000 shy of the 1.8 million signature goal to account for unusable or duplicate voter signatures.
“They’ll most likely hit it in time,” added Schultz. “This isn’t like 2003 when [former Governor Gray] Davis had both Democrats and Republicans going after him, but this isn’t like previous attempts either. Even if Newsom isn’t recalled this year, he will be severely weakened for 2022. And also, having a recall vote against you pretty much makes you unsuitable for any Presidential aspirations, which Newsom definitely has. Those for the recall win if Newsom is ousted, Newsom is ruined for 2022 or if Newsom is ruined to ever become president.
“But as the poll shows, even those in his own party are starting to not like him.”
More polls are expected from other organizations later this year. The Recall signature campaign is due to end March 10th.