In the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies recall survey released on Wednesday, several areas of California that are considered to be on the fence or leaning Democratic such as San Diego County, Orange County, and areas outside of LA, have been found to be largely in favor of recalling Gavin Newsom, and in favor of a Republican replacing Governor Newsom in the September 14th election.
However, one region in particular stood out: the North Coast. Since the mid 90’s, only Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to win over the region for Republicans, with some counties needing to go back to the Pete Wilson-era of Governorship to find a Republican last winning them over. But in the survey, when they asked North Coast residents most likely to vote in the recall if they were in favor of a recall, a majority voted yes, 50%-47%. Less than a year ago, roughly 2 out of every 3 voters in North Coast counties such as Humboldt and Mendocino voted for Biden. In 2018, it was the exact same story for those counties in terms of voters for Newsom. But now, less than 3 years later, the region may now be key in ousting that same person they elected from office.
Some of the reasons for the turn are well known. Like many Californians, many voters in the region are still upset over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide lockdowns that shut down businesses in the area during the pandemic. Farmers in the region are also upset thanks to the drought hitting the region, with the reservoirs feeling the pinch from the state releasing the water, rather than utilizing it for urban or agricultural use. And finally wildfires have devastated many parts of the region, with the largest wildfire ever in state history, the 2020 August Complex Fire, in particular hurting Newsom’s standing in the area.
But the reasons are actually deeper for the growing divide, with many issues, such as the fires and drought, piling on and focusing on some of the regions best known products. For example, marijuana farmers, previously in favor of Newsom and Democrats due to their more favorable marijuana leanings, are now more in favor of recalling the Governor.
“If you asked me ten years ago if I’d vote Republican I would have laughed in your face,” said Johnny “Treemaine” Thompson, a cannabis farmer in Humboldt County who represents several nearby farms, in a Globe interview on Thursday. “Now me and other farmers, we’re starting to think that we need to recall this guy. The feeling is is that he doesn’t care about farmers.”
“We know he’s not to blame for COVID or for the wildfires and other natural things like that. But when a government he leads releases water into the ocean instead of giving it to farms that grow food or economically valuable crops like cannabis, or even to folks in cities and towns, then he becomes a problem.”
“We’re very much worried about wildfires out here too, but we keep seeing money go out every which way but our way and to get more people out here to help fight these wildfires it seems. If you’re asking why a lot of people up here want him out, that should give you a good indication why.”
A majority of likely voters now in favor of recalling Newsom
Many pollsters in the area concur.
“Agriculture is just one sector up here,” noted Jenna Herlihy, a Redding-based pollster, to the Globe. “Hugely important, but just one. A lot of people being asked about the recall have been from cities here and have actually said they won’t vote at all.”
“And that’s why you’re seeing the North Coast see this switch. It’s not that the area is becoming more red, it’s just that many Democrats won’t be voting. Republicans here, who are all very aware of the elections, all seem to want to vote. We had a questionnaire go out to North Coast Country voters recently, and over 95% of registered Republicans said that they planned to vote. For Democrats, many of whom think Newsom still has this election wrapped up, we’re talking about half or so. Added up, that’s how you get a slight majority in favor of recalling him.”
“That’s not to say that his COVID policies didn’t turn over many people, because it did. Small business owners in particular, especially in tourist areas, were hit very hard financially, and they saw the Governor restricting their business without offering either relief or allowing tourists to travel there to provide at least some income. But no, they were hurt, and like others, they are very motivated to recall him.”
“If we get one more bad fire here between now and the election, and the Governor does not mobilize people up here quickly, then he will for sure lose it up here. It’s just now where many people are with him.”
More polls are expected in the coming weeks to see how the likely to vote situation will change in the North Coast region.
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