News & Politics

Gavin's Not Grinning: New Poll Numbers Don't Bode Well for Newsom

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

A Survey USA/San Diego Tribune poll released on Wednesday shows that more than half of Californians would vote to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office. Even more worrisome for the Democratic governor, only 40 percent of eligible voters say they will vote “No” on the recall.

Newsom’s strategy of painting recall proponents as unhinged right-wing Donald Trump supporters appears to be failing.

According to SurveyUSA, registered Republican voters overwhelmingly support removing the incumbent first-term governor, by a ratio of 8 to 1.

Democrats oppose the recall effort 3-to-1, the poll found. Independent voters supported the notion of recalling Newsom by a ratio of 5 to 3, the survey said.

With a mind-boggling 47 candidates on the ballot to replace Newsom, the race is wide open. Name recognition will be decisive as will internet visibility.

The leader among them is a Democrat, Kevin Paffrath, a Southern California real estate broker and YouTube sensation who collected 27 percent support.

Republican and conservative talk radio host Larry Elder received the next-highest level of support in the poll, with 23 percent.

The top two contenders are close enough — within the 5.4 percentage-point “credibility interval” — to be considered in a statistical dead heat.

The only other candidate to register in double digits was Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018. The Republican received 10 percent support.

There are still five weeks to go before Election Day, so we should expect those numbers to dramatically change once voters start focusing on their choice.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, an early backer of the recall effort, received 5 percent and former Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner recorded 4 percent support, the poll found.

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Opposition to Newsom is broad and deep.

A little over one-third of likely voters who said they would cast ballots to remove Newsom cited his response to the COVID-19 pandemic as their chief reason for booting him from office.

Almost 1 in 5 respondents, 18 percent, said Newsom’s budget priorities prompted their dissatisfaction with his performance.

Thirteen percent of recall proponents cited business closures as their motivation; 12 percent cited the misallocation of state unemployment payments; and 10 percent said Newsom’s attendance at a party during the lockdown cinched their recall vote.

Among minorities, Asian-Americans are Newsom’s strongest supporters with 62 percent saying they will vote against the recall measure. But Hispanics are about split on keeping Newsom in office with 47 percent supporting the recall and 41 percent opposing it.

Whites strongly back kicking Newsom out of office by a 56-35 margin. And opposition to Newsom appears to have united the genders. The poll showed 52 percent of men and 50 percent of women want him gone.

Older voters and unvaccinated voters are strongly in favor of recalling Newsom with 57 percent and 67 percent respectively supporting the recall.

It’s true that we’re still weeks from Election Day, but the crosstabs in this poll look absolutely horrible for Newsom. His efforts to portray the recall campaign as a partisan exercise have failed miserably. If he survives, it will likely be by the slimmest of margins.

What began as a bunch of parents and concerned citizens with no money, no organization, and little hope of succeeding has since caught fire and has the sitting governor of California fighting for his political life. The press has portrayed the effort as a joke, a bunch of right-wing rubes from the northern part of the state trying to overturn the establishment.

In a few weeks, this impossible dream may actually come true.