Poll: Recall of Newsom remains short of majority

A photo illustration of a voter casting a ballot. (Image: PPIC)

With the special election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom less than two weeks away, the share of California likely voters who say they would remove Newsom still falls short of a majority, while about half of likely voters do not currently have a choice for a replacement.

Solid majorities of Californians favor requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter large outdoor gatherings or certain indoor spaces. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.

 (Note:  This story is an abstract of the full survey. The complete poll and its methodology are available here. As a companion piece to the new survey, PPIC is publishing a blog post by president and CEO Mark Baldassare, “Key Opinion Shifts in California’s Recall Election.”)

Among California likely voters, 39 percent would vote yes to remove Newsom, while 58 percent would vote no. The share saying they would vote yes is the same as on prior PPIC Statewide Surveys in March (40%) and May (40%). Fifty-three percent of likely voters approve of how Newsom is handling his job as governor, similar to levels throughout 2021 so far.

Asked about replacement candidates on the recall ballot, about half of likely voters say either that they favor no one or wouldn’t vote (25%) or that they are still unsure (24%). Among likely voters, one-quarter (26%) would choose Larry Elder. He is followed by Kevin Faulconer (5%), John Cox (3%), Kevin Kiley (3%), and Caitlyn Jenner (1%).

“The share of likely voters who would vote yes to remove Gov. Newsom continues to fall short of a majority, and about half are either undecided or would not vote for one of the replacement candidates,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

(Likely voters are identified based on their responses to questions about voter registration, previous election participation, intentions to vote this year, attention to election news, and current interest in politics.)

The new statewide survey also finds:

–Most say the recall outcome is very important, but views vary across parties. An overwhelming majority of likely voters (70%) say the recall election’s outcome is very important to them, including 75 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans, and 62 percent of independents. Slightly less than half (47%) of all likely voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the recall. Republicans (54%) and independents (53%) are more likely than Democrats (40%) to say they are more enthusiastic.

“Solid majorities of California likely voters across party lines say the outcome of the recall election is very important to them, while Republicans and independents stand out as being more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the recall,” Baldassare said.

–Most approve of Newsom’s and Biden’s handling of COVID—which Californians identify as the top issue facing the state. Asked to name the top issue facing the state, one in five Californians (21%) say COVID-19—more than other issues (12% jobs and the economy, 11% homelessness, 7% government/problems with elected officials, 7% housing costs/availability). Asked about how Governor Newsom is handling the coronavirus outbreak, majorities (60% adults, 58% likely voters) approve of his performance. Solid majorities (66% adults, 63% likely voters) approve of how President Biden is handling the pandemic.

“COVID-19 tops the list when Californians are asked to name the most important issue facing the people of the state, and majorities approve of the way that Governor Newsom and President Biden are handling their top issue,” Baldassare said.

Editor’s Note: The findings are based on responses from 1,706 California adult residents. The sampling error is plus- or minus-3.4 percent for the total unweighted sample and plus- or minus-4.5 percent for the 1,080 likely voters. Interviewing took place from Aug. 20–29, 2021. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.


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