The question of whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has narrowed to a three-point spread, a new poll from the Los Angeles Times and Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies says.
The poll, released publicly Tuesday, offers a rare glimpse into the mindset of likely California voters, with 50 percent of likely voters saying they’ll stick with Newsom in the Governor’s office.
The poll, however, has troubling signs for California’s sizable Democratic Party.
For starters, voter enthusiasm over the special election is decidedly in favor of Republicans, with nearly 90 percent of GOP respondents expressing a high level of interest.
That figure casts a long shadow over Democrats and Independents, who responded at rates of 58 and 53 percent, respectively.
The enthusiasm gap is a significant problem for Newsom, poll director Mark DiCamillo told The Times.
“Democrats, at least in the middle of July, almost unanimously believed that Newsom will defeat the recall. I think that may be contributing to some complacency among those voters. Republicans, on the other hand, are confident that they can turn out the governor,” DiCamillo told the paper. “I think the Newsom campaign really has to light a fire among the Democrats and say, ‘Look, the outcome is in jeopardy unless you get out there and vote.'”
Deeper analysis by the paper’s Sacramento bureau chief, John Myers, found that Team Newsom’s key messaging – that the election is a waste of time and money, and that it is a Republican-led attempt to steal an election – aren’t generating sufficient enthusiasm.
The poll also offers a snapshot of how Team Newsom’s messages are/aren’t working.— John Myers (@johnmyers) July 27, 2021
Among likely voters, 53% say the recall is a waste of money. But only 46% say it’s a GOP effort to steal the governorship (48% of LVs disagree with that statement).
The three-point spread among likely voters on the recall question is within the poll’s margin of error, a first for public polling on the race.
Newsom, meanwhile, is underwater when it comes to his job approval among likely voters.
Currently, 51 percent of voters disapprove of Newsom’s job performance with 48 percent approving.
Meanwhile, California likely voters are almost equally split on whether recalling Newsom was merited due to his inaction on California’s homelessness, energy, wildfire, income inequality, and water crises.
However, that question highlighted the generational shift in opinion, as the multi-pronged crises is serving as a considerable motivator to young voters.
63 percent of 18 to 29 year olds said they agreed that Newsom should be recalled due to inaction on the bevy of crises. Similarly, 40 to 49 year olds and 50 to 64 year olds held a plurality view that the recall was justified on those terms.
As for the replacement election, the second of two questions on the Sept. 14, ballot, voters remain mostly undecided, with 40 percent of respondents unsure of who they’d select to replace Newsom.
Of those that had an opinion, Los Angeles radio host Larry Elder leads the field of contenders, with 18 percent of likely voters selecting him.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 2018 GOP nominee contender John Cox are tied for the second position with 10 percent of respondents each.
Reality star and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner registered three percent of respondents’ selection as replacement.