New Poll Shows Potential Problems for Newsom Heading Into Recall

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces a $100 billion economic recovery proposal for the state during a press conference at The Unity Council on May 10, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A new poll out Tuesday shows potential trouble for Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election.

The latest survey, from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, still finds just 36% of all registered voters support removing Newsom from office — a number that hasn't much budged since January. But among voters most likely to participate in the September election, support for the recall jumps to 47%, the poll finds.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the numbers show Newsom must work hard to motivate his voters.

"We're finding that there's much higher likelihood of Republicans turning out, at least at this point in time," he said.

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The ballot that voters will get in the mail next month will ask whether they support the recall, and who they’d like to see replace Newsom if he is removed.

Voter complacency could become an issue for the governor. The poll found 70% of Democrats expect Newsom to beat the recall. And DiCamillo said "no party preference" voters also overwhelmingly believe Newsom will survive. And, with no other major Democrat running should Newsom be ousted, many of the governor's supporters may sit out this election.

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"What you're seeing is the Republican voters actually have a greater incentive to participate," DiCamillo said. "Not only do most of the Republicans want to recall the governor, but they, by and large, want to put in place one of their preferred candidates as the new governor."

Among those running to replace Newsom, conservative talk show host Larry Elder is the leading choice of voters who say they'll vote for a replacement candidate. Elder gets 18%, followed by businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, both with 10%. DiCamillo said Elder's lead is significant.

"Most of that support is coming from the Republican rank-and-file voters who are likely to be voting," he said.

Still, DiCamillo notes, 40% remain undecided about who they’ll pick.

The poll was administered online in English and Spanish between July 18 and July 24, 2021. It was given to 5,795 registered voters. Results from the sample of voters considered most likely to participate in the election are based on the responses of 3,266 of these voters.