A new poll has found that a majority of Californians would vote against recalling Gavin Newsom as governor if the recall election were held today, and only 40% — mostly Republican voters — would vote in favor.
The poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), essentially found that Republicans still dislike Newsom, but they do not hold a majority across deeply blue California, and voters overall approve of Newsom's handling of the pandemic.
"The share who would vote now to remove the governor is similar to the 38% who did not vote for Newsom in the fall of 2018," says PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare in a statement.
As Bay Area News Group reports, the poll also found that an overwhelming majority of Californians, 72%, believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us — that's compared to 56% who felt this way when polled two months ago. And this sense of relief, and perhaps approval of how the vaccine rollout is going, is likely contributing to overall approval of Newsom.
All in all, 42% of independent voters and 79% of Republican voters said they would support the recall, but only 15% of Democratic voters said the same. And as many have noted in comparing the current recall effort with the one that took place in 2003 and which succeeded in knocking Gray Davis out of office, Republicans make up even less of a share of the California electorate than they did then — 24% versus 35% 18 years ago.
Polling prior to the 2003 recall also found that around half of Californians wanted Davis recalled, versus 40% who now say they'd want to recall Newsom.
"People who will vote no on the recall are saying he’s doing the best he can and he had no federal leadership for the first year or so, so you can’t hold him totally responsible for the pandemic response," says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at Cal State Sacramento, speaking to Bay Area News Group. "Yes, he made mistakes, and going to the French Laundry was stupid, but should I vote to recall him? No."
The effort to recall Newsom is largely being funded by a small cabal of Republican donors, and in addition to drumming up more hatred of the governor, the campaign is likely going to have to fend off hate-speech allegations of its own — they've already been caught spouting "China virus" bullshit on their website.
The recall campaigners say they've collected 2 million signatures, with only 1.5 million needed to trigger the election. But as the LA Times reports this week, there is still more potential drama to come. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis will be responsible for scheduling the recall, which must happen between 60 and 80 days from certification. If she decides to make it 60 days, that will give potential replacement candidates just a 24-hour window in which to file all their paperwork — a constraint that could result in just a blank line for write-in candidates on the two-part ballot.
In 2003, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamente allowed for 17 days in which to file to get on the ballot, resulting in a rogues' gallery of candidates that included a porn star and former child actor Gary Coleman.
Also, this is likely to be an all-mail-in recall, which gives the advantage to Democrats at the outset. Democrats make up 46% of registered voters in the state, almost but not quite double the number of Republicans.
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