One of the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, polls found that public approval of California Gov. Gavin Newsom is declining, largely due to his handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The IGS poll, conducted at the end of January, reported that 31% of Californians rated Newsom’s handling of the pandemic as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 49% in September. Public opinion regarding vaccine distribution, stay-at-home orders, business guidelines and trust in Newsom and state government were also mostly negative.
“What we’re finding in our latest poll is that Californians are reevaluating their views of the job Governor Newsom is doing,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll. “The opinions now are about evenly divided, whereas before, he was quite positively reviewed back in September.”
Data for this poll was collected by sending out email invitations asking a random sample of registered voters in California to participate in a nonpartisan survey conducted by UC Berkeley, according to DiCamillo. More than 10,000 respondents were then modeled to ensure their demographics and political views are representative of all of California’s registered voters.
In addition to overall public sentiment concerning Newsom’s handling of the pandemic, the IGS poll assessed registered voters’ opinion of the state governor in more specific areas.
In terms of overseeing COVID-19 vaccine distribution, only 22% of voters rated Newsom’s performance as “excellent” or “good,” while 40% assessed it as “poor” or “very poor.” Both Newsom’s performance in managing the economy and his ability to balance public health with the interests of workers were rated as “poor” or “very poor” by 45% of voters.
Additionally, the IGS poll found that many voters do not trust Newsom and the state government when instituting stay-at-home orders and establishing COVID-19 guidelines for businesses.
“Forty-seven percent said they have some trust in what the government is doing, while 49% said they don’t have much trust at all,” DiCamillo said. “That is a very serious condemnation of the sitting governor when you are losing that much trust.”
According to DiCamillo, supporters of a recall election have already acquired 1.3 million signatures out of the 1.5 million they need to call for a special election of the governor this year.
DiCamillo added that a “relatively large proportion” of voters were undecided when asked whether or not they would support the recall, signifying that Newsom’s position rests on how he will handle the pandemic in the future.
“These results should provide a strong warning to the Governor,” said IGS co-director Eric Schickler in the IGS poll release. “If the recall election does go forward, the state’s response to the pandemic needs to be seen as more successful for the Governor than it is now for him to be confident of the election outcome.”