A new poll of California voters found not enough support for the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom to successfully remove him from office, but a majority of respondents said they would support another candidate when Newsom’s first term is up in 2022.
Asked if they would vote to recall Newsom, 38% of voters said they would, 42% said they’d vote to keep him in office, and 18.9% were undecided. Another 6.1% said they would not vote in a recall election.
The poll was released Monday by Emerson College Polling and Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.’s six California television stations, including KTLA. It surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters across the state, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The Republican-led recall effort has gained steam amid efforts by Newsom’s administration to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. Critics of Newsom say public health restrictions went too far, forcing businesses to close and limiting people’s freedoms for too long. The initially slow vaccine rollout in California has also prompted criticism.
And Newsom came in for calls of hypocrisy when — while he was beseeching Californias to stay safely at home — he in November attended a lobbyist’s birthday party at one of the most posh restaurants in the Golden State, The French Laundry in Napa Valley.
Recall organizers have until Wednesday to gather 1.5 million verified signatures in order to qualify for the ballot, and then counties have until April 29 to verify the signatures. Recall organizers say they already have more than 2 million signatures.
The organizers say they are attracting Democrats and independents, the Associated Press reported, and the poll found some support for that — though just a small portion of Democrats support the recall. In California, Democrats account for 46.1% of registered voters, compared to Republicans’ 24.2%.
Perhaps not surprisingly after an incredibly divisive national election, Republicans overwhelmingly support the recall, the poll results show, while Democrats are overwhelmingly opposed: 86.2% of Republicans support it, alongside just 11.8% of Democrats and 39.4% of independents.
“The Republicans are in favor of the recall regardless of which candidate they put up, and the Democrats are still with Newsom,” said Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson Polling. “But there is weaker support for the governor among younger Democrats, and if a fresh new face emerges on the left that could be a game changer in Newsom’s Democrat support and a boost in the recall effort.”
At this point, no prominent candidates on the left have emerged amid the recall effort.
Perhaps a result more concerning to the Newsom camp, the poll shows a majority of Californians believe a change is needed when the governor is up for re-election in 2022.
Those who say it will be “time for someone new” accounted for 58.3% of respondents, while 41.7% said they’d vote to re-elect Newsom.
Slightly more respondents said they approved than disapproved of Newsom’s handling of the job as governor. Those who approved accounted for 41.8% of respondents, while 40.3% said they disapprove and 17.9% were unsure or had no opinion.
A similar split occurred when voters were asked specifically about Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, though fewer people didn’t have an opinion: 45.4% approve; 43.7% disapprove, and 10.9% were unsure or had no opinion.
Asked specifically about the state’s mask mandate, an overwhelming majority support it or said it’s not strict enough: 51% think it’s “about right” and 23% think it doesn’t go far enough. Just 26% said they think the mask requirement goes too far.
As for the big picture, a strong majority think the state is headed in the correct direction: 57.4%, compared to 42.6% who think the Golden State is on the wrong track.
However, when asked if they think the state is on the right path for economic recovery, more voters think California is going the wrong way.
The poll found 39% of respondents said the state is on the “wrong path” for economic recovery after COVID-19, compared to 36% who say things are on the right path. A quarter of voters were unsure.
The poll was conducted March 12 to 14, 2021. The sample consisted of California registered voters, n=1,045, with a credibility interval similar to a poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
It found the majority of Californians are moderately interested in the recall.