A new poll finds that California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom could handily beat the recall election next week.
The Sept. 14 ballot has two questions for California voters: Should their governor, Newsom, be recalled from office and, if he is ousted, who should take his place?
According to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times released Friday, 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom compared with 38.5% in favor of it. Fewer than 2% of likely voters remained undecided or declined to answer.
The findings were compiled by pollsters between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6, and are consistent with other recent polls that show Newsom would be able to defeat the recall effort. He needs to win by a simple majority.
Newsom has been gaining strength in polls in recent weeks. He has rallied his Democrat base against the prospects of being replaced by conservative talk-show host Larry Elder, the leading opposition contestant. Elder is a lawyer and an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump. The poll found that Elder had 38% support among likely voters, by far the highest among opposition contestants.
The poll also found that 65% of likely voters, 89% of likely Democrat voters, and 64% of independent voters thought that electing someone like Elder would threaten California’s progressive policies on climate change, immigration, healthcare, and abortion. Elder is anti-union, anti-abortion rights, and is skeptical of climate change.
“It’s changed the whole dynamic of the vote,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. “It’s raised fear among voters, and I think that fear has increased the engagement of Democrats.”
Newsom has also been buoyed by the support of prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.
Newsom’s campaign has spent millions on television and social media ads.
The recall campaign has maintained that Newsom overstepped his authority as governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elder has said that people ought to be able to make their own decisions about mask-wearing and that people shouldn’t be forced to be vaccinated. Newsom was criticized for dining maskless with a group of friends at a Napa Valley restaurant while telling others to avoid large gatherings. But Newsom touts California’s high vaccination rates compared to other states.
Ballots have already been mailed to all California registered voters. The mail ballot returns so far show that more than twice as many Democrats have voted as Republicans, according to state officials and political data researchers, reported the Los Angeles Times. Most people voting to recall the governor intend to vote in person, the newspaper reported.
California’s recalls can take place in off-years. There have been at least 179 recall attempts in the state. Every governor since 1960 have faced at least one recall election.