Poll: Newsom in Trouble

The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies released their latest Golden State survey that finds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) strength in the upcoming recall election dissipating.

According to UC Berkeley, among likely voters, 47% would vote to recall Gov. Newsom and 50% would not, clearly the closest ballot test result seen to date. The recall election is scheduled for September 14th, and voters will first choose whether to remove the Governor from office before choosing a replacement among 46 ballot qualified candidates. The replacement candidates’ votes count only if a majority supports removing the subject from office, in this case Gov. Newsom.

The Berkeley poll (7/18-24; 5,795 CA registered voters; 3,266 CA likely recall election voters; online) finds Newsom in trouble only among likely voters, those screened as almost certain to participate in the recall election. Within the entire polling sample, he returns to safe territory as the respondents break only 36-51% for removing him from office.

The major difference is partisanship. The parties, as one might guess, break in polarized fashion. A total of 91% of Democrats would vote against the recall while 95% of Republicans favor removal.

The independent and minor party sectors become interesting, however. Among the large No Party Preference group, 46% would vote to recall Mr. Newsom and 50% would not. The combined minor parties, which only account for approximately 6% of the electorate are breaking hard for the recall position. Within the minor party segment, 68% would vote to remove as compared to only 30% supporting the retain option.

Among Republicans, 90% say they are enthusiastic about the election, while 58% of Democrats say the same. Among the substantial segment in the “No Party Preference” or independent category, 53% say they are enthusiastic.

The polling analysis suggests that the Governor’s fundamental problem is that Democrats are “almost unanimous” in their belief that he will win the recall election. This substantially explains the Democrats’ lack of solid enthusiasm for the irregular September 14th stand-alone election.

Though Republicans only account for just under a quarter of the registered California electorate, the enthusiasm level for the recall substantially increases their clout. The Berkeley pollsters estimate their share of the electorate would be worth 33 percent under their turnout model. Democrats, who account for 46% of the Golden State registered voter universe, would drop to 42% under the projected participation model used for this survey. The No Party Preference (Independent) group is as large as the Republican base, but the enthusiasm question reduces them to accounting for just 18% of the recall electorate.

Geography is also key to the result. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area break heavily for Newsom. The Central Coast, the areas in and around Monterey and Carmel, slightly favor retention.

The remainder of the state’s geographic segments as the pollsters determined, Orange County, San Diego County, the Inland Empire (Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario), the Central Valley (Stockton/Fresno/Bakersfield), and the North Coast/Sierras all favor removal, with Orange County and the Inland Empire leading the removal sector each with a 60-38% division in favor of change.

In terms of gender, males favor removal by a 53-46% count, where females support retaining Gov. Newsom breaking 55-42%. A bit surprisingly, the oldest voters favor retention with the strongest percentages. Among those 65-74 years of age, 56% would vote to retain while 43% favor recall. In the 75 or older segment, the Governor would survive in a 53-46% division.

Among the replacement candidates, Los Angeles radio talk show personality Larry Elder (R), who had to petition a court to receive his ballot placement after the Secretary of State ruled him ineligible, leads with 18% preference. John Cox (R), the former gubernatorial candidate and one-time presidential contender as well as having failed to attain office in Illinois, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) are tied with 10%. State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay/Sacramento) is next with 5%, while media star Caitlin Jenner (R) attracts only 3% support.

The UC Berkeley poll clearly shows Gov. Newsom is in weakened position for the recall, but also identifies how he can easily recover. It appears all that he needs to repel the removal effort is to re-energize the less reliable Democratic voter group.

Such is certainly doable, and the Newsom campaign’s strategy of claiming the recall is Donald Trump-driven seeks to accomplish this objective. Whether or not they can convince the casual voter to turnout for an unusual September 14th election does make their task slightly more difficult, however.

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