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CA Voters Not Backing Newsom Recall, Poll Says

California Governor Gavin Newsom stands with his hand raised.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
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A new poll suggests California voters are not interested in recalling Governor Gavin Newsom.

A Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll of more than 10,000 registered voters found 36% currently favor replacing Newsom, while 49% plan to vote “no” on a recall. Fifteen percent are undecided. (46% of the state's registered voters are Democrats; Republicans are 24%, the same percentage of people who are independent, have no party preference or decline to state.)

Compared with the Institute’s last poll, conducted in January, opposition to the recall is ticking up slightly, while support for removing Newsom remains steady.

More voters approve of the job Newsom is doing as governor now than they did four months ago — 52% in the latest poll vs. 46% in January — likely responding to the improving COVID-19 picture in the state. But a majority rate the governor poorly on two major issues: housing costs and homelessness.

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At the California Democrats’ virtual convention earlier this month, the party brass sent a clear message discouraging members from offering themselves as an alternative to Newsom on the recall’s second ballot, as Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante did in the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis. But nearly half of Democrats who responded to the poll — 48% — said they would like to see a prominent member of the party run “to provide another way for a Democrat to remain as governor if Newsom is removed from office.”

Late last month, recall organizers turned in more than the roughly 1.5 million signatures required to qualify the effort for the ballot. The lieutenant governor is expected to set the special election for sometime in November.

So far, the recall is being met with a collective shrug by most voters. Fewer than half said they have a “high degree of interest” in the election.

The poll also shows an enthusiasm gap that could worry Newsom backers: GOP voters are more than twice as likely to express high interest in the recall as Democrats or independents.

So far, no Republican opponent has emerged as a clear alternative to Newsom. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox (the latter lost to Newsom in 2018) both drew support from 22% of respondents. Just 14% backed former Congressman Doug Ose, while former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlin Jenner trailed with 6%.

Corrected May 11, 2021 at 6:05 PM PDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the secretary of state would set a date for the recall election. That date will be set by the lieutenant governor.
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