A New CBS News poll of the California recall election was released Sunday showing that Governor Gavin Newsom holding a narrow lead in staving off the recall, with Larry Elder still leading the recall candidate pack in terms of voter support.
According to the CBS poll, which is based on a random sampling of 1,856 California voters from August 6th through August 12th, 52% of likely voters said that they would not vote to recall Newsom, with 48% in favor of a recall. Compared to an Emerson College poll conducted earlier this month showing a 48%-46% split against the recall and a UC Berkeley poll conducted in late July that had a 50%-47% split against the recall, the overall likely voter figures have largely remained unchanged despite a ramped up effort by Newsom and the Democratic party against the recall.
When broken down by demographics, 54% of voters under 30 and 50% of voters 65 and older were in favor of the recall, with 52% of voters between 30 and 44 and 56% of voters between 45 and 64 being in favor of keeping Newsom. Racial divides were also noticed, with white and Latino voters showing a slight lead in favor of ousting Newsom, and Asian and Black voters against the recall by 59% and 65% respectively.
By party Republicans were in favor of the recall 92%-8%, Independents only slightly against it 51% to 49%, and Democrats against it 85% to 15%.
Elder still leads recall candidates, Paffrath surges in recent weeks
Among the recall candidates, the CBS poll has found that talk show host Larry Elder still leads with 23% of the vote. However, 29-year-old YouTuber and real estate broker Kevin Paffrath, the most prominent Democrat to enter the recall race following a Democratic party order that no Democrat enter the recall race, came in second place overall with 13% of the vote. This shows a remarkable rise for the Democrat, who had only been polling at 1% compared to 23% for Elder in the Emerson poll earlier this month, and a similar 3% for Paffrath against 18% for Elder in the July Berkeley poll.
Other candidates have quickly fallen behind. The nearest candidates in the CBS poll, besides 20% for “No one,” and 25% still undecided, are former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), and 2018 GOP Gubernatorial candidate John Cox all currently coming in with a distant 3%.
By demographics, Elder carried the 45-64 and 65+ age groups with 26% and 32% of the vote respectively, with Paffrath coming in second with 10% in each group. However, among younger voters, the GOP candidates were more fragmented, with Cox and reality TV show star Caitlyn Jenner coming close to Elder’s support percentages. Paffrath scored highest, with 18% of the 30 and under voters and 19% of the 30-44 bloc of voters.
Elder was also the top candidate among most racial demographics, pulling in 26% of the White vote among recall candidates, 23% of the Latino vote, and 14% of the Asian vote. The only demographic he wasn’t leading was the black vote, which he has had trouble with since the beginning of the campaign. However, despite Paffrath leading the group with 17% of the vote, Elder has shown signs of improvement in enticing the black vote, coming in second with 14%. All other candidates failed to garner at least 10% of any racial group.
Newsom’s approval rating, which has generally hovered around the 50% mark in the last several polls, moved up to 57% according to the CBS poll. In more good news for the Governor, he also now has approval in how he is handling 5 of the 7 largest issues in California this year, including a 57% approval percentage on how he has handled the economy, 59% approval on race relations, 57% on wildfires, 56% on climate change, and a stunning 60% on handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the poll did find that 51% disapproved of his handling of crime, and 60% disapproving of his handling of the homeless crisis. Other large issues, such as the drought and the housing crisis, were not directly questioned.
Overall, the CBS poll showed that the race is still very much open and that Democrats are starting to realize that they may lose the recall.
Recall race still wide open with less than a month to go
“Despite the big push by Democrats, Newsom is still within striking distance,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe Monday. “The recall is still within the margin of error, and with more vaccine mandates coming up and a possible return to more lockdown-like measures in the coming weeks, along with continuing wildfires and a still emboldened group looking to recall Newsom, it is still anyone’s game.”
“Dems have also said that they still back Newsom 100% and aren’t scared, but numbers don’t lie. Look at how many are starting to be in favor of Paffrath. You don’t see jumps like that happen overnight very often. The only time we saw that this race so far was when Elder came into the race last month and sort of stole the show.
“Paffrath’s popularity is really showing that they are worried. But Democrats also have a lot of reasons to be hopeful. Newsom’s approval rating has gone up a bit and many voters are not as bothered as much anymore with his pandemic actions. The poll is also showing that around 75% of voters will be voting by mail or by vote drop-off boxes. Those early voters tend to usually be more on the Democratic side, and, if something really slams Newsom late in the race, a big last minute voter turnout may not happen and save him. Although, conversely, this means that the stimulus check he is sending out, as well as any gains in early September, may be nulled too.
“Newsom already gambled on keeping support and the Dems having no major candidate go in as a safety candidate. As we’ve seen with his popularity dipping and Paffrath moving up in the polls, that kind of backfired. The moving to an earlier voting date is also a gamble, and right now, with a month to go, we don’t know exactly if it was a good or bad thing. The Democrats have gambled a lot though so far in this recall, and so far it hasn’t paid off.”
“For Republicans, the poll shows they need to push just a bit more to get that winning percentage of voters in favor of the recall, as well as possibly consolidate under Elder just in case Paffrath picks up steam. Last thing they want is to oust Newsom and get a 29-year-old Democrat to replace him because they couldn’t agree on a candidate. For the Democrats, they need to get more potential voters to vote. There are a lot more of them in the state and they just aren’t reaching enough of them right now. For them, it’s keep Newsom at all costs. And right now, that means Biden and Harris coming in-state later on, something they almost never do in an off-year election.”
Mail-in recall ballots were sent out last week to all registered voters in the state. The recall election is set for September 14th.