A couple new polls show Newsom back up by double-digits in the Sept. 14 recall election, but more importantly, Democrats have an overwhelming advantage in the 23% of Californians who’ve already voted by mail.
Governor Gavin Newsom has opened up some breathing room in the polling averages for the September 14 recall election. But the polls may not matter here, turnout matters — or rather, mailing in your ballot matters. Every voter in the state has now received their mail-in ballot, and just a couple weeks ago, Newsom’s team was terrified that a lack of enthusiasm on the Democratic side, coupled with wildfires dominating the news, could sink Newsom in a low-turnout election and hand the state to a Looney Tunes Republican.
Now that the votes are rolling in, the narrative is flipping hard. The voter data firm Political Data Intelligence has a mail-in ballot vote tracker which shows that 23% of the electorate has already voted. That tracker does not show how anyone voted, but it does show party identification. And those numbers show that 10.3 million mail-in ballots are from Democrats, with just 5.3 million from Republicans, numbers that have to please the Newsom campaign.
The caveat here is that 6.5 million votes are from independents, so those could go either way. But for now, Newsom appears to have quite a cushion.
“If I am the Newsom campaign, I have to feel good about these numbers, but I think it’s a big mistake for them to be overly optimistic,” Political Data Intelligence vice president Paul Mitchell told the L.A. Times. “The remaining task ahead has to look steep — you’re starting to look at voters who are really challenging to turn out.”
BREAKING: The campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is failing, a new poll shows — likely voters approve of how he's handling California's top issues while conservatives can’t grow support to oust him.https://t.co/8acH1vKGkk— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 2, 2021
He cautions that “If this represents Republicans holding onto their ballots and waiting to vote at the polls, then we can be in for some real shifting in numbers.” And that’s true, as Trump successfully demonized mail-in voting among Republicans. But if they’re counting on an avalanche of GOP votes on a highly unconventional mid-September election day that the state has never seen, they are essentially hoping to complete a Hail Mary pass.
ICMYI: Newest @PPICNotes poll shows the rise of the Delta variant is #1 issue -- and @GavinNewsom has strong support of his handling of resurgence in latest California recall survey. He's beating recall by double digits https://t.co/HQSNLy7DPB— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) September 2, 2021
But there is excellent news for Newsom in the latest Public Policy Institute poll, which the Chronicle reports shows Newsom beating the recall in a cakewalk, 58%-39%. The important detail in that one is the independent vote. Independents are in favor of keeping Newsom, by a 49%-44% margin. That is hardly a huge lead. But recalling Newsom would require independents to break against him in very large numbers, and right now, that is just plain not happening.
I don't think most Californians know how much Newsom and the Democratic legislature have done in the last 18 months.— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) September 2, 2021
To be honest, I didn't know a lot of it, until I sat down to pick through their record. But it's impressive. https://t.co/8qX6jn4mas
There is now less than two weeks until the recall election. Just one week ago, Newsom appeared to be in deep trouble, so things can certainly change fast. But with a quarter of the electorate already having voted, turning around Newsom’s current momentum becomes far more difficult with each passing day.
Image: SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 22: California Lt. Gov. and California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom (L) laughs with a resident as he visits the Alice Griffith Apartments on August 22, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco mayor London Breed toured a low-income housing complex. Newsom leads Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox by an average of 23 percentage points in recent polls. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)