California Voters Support Gov. Newsom In Recall Fight, Survey Finds

May 27, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
California Gov. Gavin Newsom at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. (Photo by Dan McCue)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A majority of California voters say they would vote for Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep his position in a recall election, a new survey finds.

The survey, conducted earlier this month by the Public Policy Institute of California, reports that 40% of likely voters would vote to remove Newsom and 57% would vote not to remove him, meaning that the recall effort would fail if the vote were held this month. 

The survey was based on interviews with 1,700 Californian adults and it was conducted between May 9-18, around the same time Newsom introduced his state budget, Associate Survey Director and Research Associate Dean Bonner said at a presentation of the survey’s results on Wednesday. Representatives of the institution pointed out the results are consistent with polling conducted by PPIC in March.

“The remarkably stable opposition to the recall of Gavin Newsom is driven by a large and consistent partisan divide that favors the Democratic governor,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, in a written comment.

On state issues, the survey found that a majority of Californians also view Newsom’s job performance and his handling of COVID-19 favorably.

The survey also asked open-ended questions about what Californians view as the most important problem facing the state.

In the presentation of the survey’s results, Baldassare highlighted that COVID-19 has slipped from the number one priority to the second priority as people in the state look to jobs and the economy, driven largely by the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“I think Californians will be looking over the next few months at what’s going on with our economy,” Baldassare said.

“We have high unemployment. Things are improving, but will they improve uniformly? What will it mean to have the full re-opening of the economy that the governor has announced for June 15th?” he said.

Housing-related concerns have also grown, according to Baldassare.

The California governor will likely face the second-ever recall vote in the state’s history later this year.

Organizers turned in 1,719,943 valid signatures before the March 17 filing deadline, triggering a likely recall election for Newsom later this year, though the exact date has not yet been determined.

The recall petition listed Newsom’s implementation of laws that “favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens,” as well as numerous other issues, including the high tax rate, homelessness, water-use rations, and Newsom’s stance on the death penalty, according to documents presented by Ballotpedia. 

In the summer of 2020, Newsom responded by saying that an “unwarranted” recall effort would cost state taxpayers $81 million. 

At the end of last year, Newsom spokesperson Dan Newman said that the proposal was being supported by a “ragtag crew of pro-Trump, anti-vaccine extremists, along with some ambitious Republican politicians who would like to be governor,” who were imposing an unnecessary expense on taxpayers in the state.

Previous opinion polling has varied on the percentage, but most have shown a voter preference for the “no, don’t recall” option.

The other recall, which was successful, was against Gov Gray Davis, a Democrat, in 2003. That led to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, to the governorship.

Voter’s mood in 2021 is very different than it was in the 2003 recall effort, Baldassare said.

In 2003, Baldassare said, nearly half of voters said that things in the state would improve if Governor Davis were removed from office, which tracked with the number of voters who voted in favor of the recall. In contrast, only 29% of voters now say that things would improve if Governor Newsom were removed from office, while 34% say things would get worse.

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