According to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/Los Angeles Times survey released on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom is now within 3 points of being recalled when voting is broken down to likely voters this September.
While Newsom still holds the majority of voters in the question of whether or not to retain the governor, 36% to 51%, the poll found that although Republicans only account for roughly 1/4th of all current California voters, they are expected to be accounted for at least 1/3rd of all voters in the recall election due to the election happening in September and Republicans and recall proponents from other parties being energized to vote.
“While Republicans account for only about one-quarter of all voters in the overall electorate, the poll finds that among those most likely to participate in the recall election their share increases to a third (33%),” explained the IGS survey. “And, while 46% of voters in the state’s overall electorate are registered Democrats and 24% are registered No Party Preference, among those most likely to vote, the share of Democrats declines to 42% and that of No Party Preference voters to18%. The narrowing of the Democrats’ large numeric advantage over Republican voters has a major impact on the recall election since voting preferences are extremely partisan. According to the poll, greater than nine in ten of the Democrats most likely to vote (91%) intend to vote No to retain Newsom, while an even larger proportion of Republicans (95%) are lining up on the Yes side to recall the Governor. The same huge chasm in voting preferences is observed between the state’s liberals and conservatives, who the poll finds account for roughly similar proportions of likely voters.”
Based on those most likely to vote, the recall is now within the margin of error, with recall yes votes now only 3% away, 47% to 50%.
By party, the situation is even more dire for Democrats. While 91% of Democrats intend to vote to keep Newsom, 95% of Republicans said they would vote to recall Newsom, along with a near even 46%-50% split slightly in favor of keeping Newsom among voters with no party affiliation and 68% of minor party voters in favor of ousting Newsom.
By region, only Los Angeles County, the Bay Area, and the Central Coast have a majority in favor of keeping Newsom. Economically hard hit areas due to Newsom’s statewide COVID lockdowns have and normally divisive areas have swing largely to being in favor of a recall, including in Orange County by a 60%-38% split, San Diego County by 54%-43%, and even in the usual liberal North Coast region with 50%-47% in favor.
When compared to the May UC Berkeley poll and the more recent Emerson College poll released last week, it has shown a trend of support for Newsom, as well as those in favor of keeping him in office, declining sharply. While the Emerson recall support figures almost identical to the new Berkeley survey, Emerson didn’t account for likely voters, thus making the race much closer than it had been originally thought to have been.
Newsom’s approval rate has also slightly gone down again, sitting at 48% among those most likely to vote, falling by a point from the Emerson poll last week.
Elder takes commanding lead among recall candidates
The July Berkeley survey also found that, among recall candidates, radio host Larry Elder has taken a larger lead. Elder is currently polling at 18%, with 31% of Republicans backing him as of late July. It also marks a 4% gain from the Emerson poll last week, showing that Elder is quickly becoming the favorite candidate among likely voters.
Tied for second are 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer with 10%, followed by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) with 5%. The highest polling Democrat in the race, real estate broker and Youtuber Kevin Paffrath, is currently sitting at 3% support, with only 8% of Democratic voters backing him. He’s also tied with former Olympian and reality show star Caitlyn Jenner with 3%, with all other candidates currently polling at 2% or less. Undecided voters have also gone noticeably down from earlier polls, now sitting at 40%, 66% of whom are Democrats.
“This is the kind of poll a lot of people have been waiting for,” former lobbyist Harry Schultz told the Globe on Tuesday. “Political experts from the left and right have known that it was much closer than we previously thought, so when they added up the likely voters instead of just a straight poll not taking that crucial aspect into effect, Newsom goes from having it in the bag to him scrambling for any advantage.”
“To his credit his team likely knew this and prepared for things just in case things took a turn, which, with COVID rates going back up and possible lockdowns now in consideration again and mandatory vaccines, proved their caution right. They got an earlier election date and they have stimulus checks coming out a week before election day among other things. But even now those gambles might not be enough.”
“And also, look at how fast Elder has moved up. Besides Newsom in the recall itself, he’s now the guy to beat. A month ago, it was looking like Faulconer or Cox. But they have tracked pretty steady, and we haven’t had the same kind of track record from him yet. Plus, he’s missing the first debate, which may hurt. And we have to remember he isn’t polling no where near Arnold Schwarzenegger was in 2003. Arnold was a star who managed to attract a lot of Democrats. Elder, while a well-known radio host, doesn’t compare to that, and as the poll showed, is only liked by about 2% of Democratic voters.”
“The race also hasn’t hit the national news cycle just yet, which it probably will closer to election day. People like John Oliver and Jimmy Kimmel will probably devote more and more time to it when it gets down to the wire, and especially if it remains close.”
“The main takeaways from this poll are that Newsom is more vulnerable and Elder’s star continues to rise. If both these trends continue, we may be looking at the first black Governor of California being sworn into office in a few months. But it’s not even August yet. There are still many crazy weeks to go.”
Other recall election polls are expected in the next few months in the lead up to the September 14th recall election.
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