A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, poll conducted in late April and early May found that only 36% of California voters support recalling California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
This figure is identical to one found in a similar IGS poll conducted in late January, according to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll, making support for the recall “stagnant.” Of the people who participated in the poll, 49% now say they would vote “no” on a recall, an increase of four percentage points since January.
“There is no single standout alternative candidate, unlike with Schwarzenegger in the Gray Davis recall,” said Eric Schickler, co-director of IGS, in an email. “As of now, none of the Republican candidates have caught on with voters outside the party base.”
Schickler added the large share of currently undecided voters — 15% — is significant because those that “tend to be more undecided” on the recall are Democrat-leaning, rather than Republican.
DiCamillo also noted that Newsom’s approval rating has risen since January, from 46% to 52%.
“The people on the fence are probably those worried about his pandemic response,” said Davina Srioudom, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats. “Things are starting to get better, and seeing how he did a good job with vaccine distribution, I think that’s caused that shift in ‘Nos.’ ”
The regions where recall supporters outnumber opponents are sparsely populated, according to Schickler. The areas of most opposition are around the Bay Area and Los Angeles, resembling the usual voting patterns of the state.
Schickler added that support for a recall is unlikely to increase unless some “other crisis” were to happen, such as a pandemic surge, to win greater Democratic-leaning support.
This does not mean Newsom is entirely safe from a recall, DiCamillo said.
“Interest in the recall was more than twice as high among Republicans than in Democrats or No Party Preference, but that could change as we get closer to the election,” DiCamillo said. “Everyone will be mailed a ballot there to four weeks before the recall, so it will be hard for voters not to be aware of it.”
DiCamillo noted that voters are critical of Newsom in more specific issue areas, including in housing, homelessness and crime and criminal justice. However, Newsom benefits from a state budget surplus, which he can utilize in areas where he is doing unpopularly to improve support.
Kevin Faulkner, former mayor of San Diego, and John Cox, former gubernatorial candidate, both received support from 22% of poll participants, with Caitlyn Jenner garnering 6%, DiCamillo added. The recall election is anticipated to be in late October or early November, leaving time for candidates to “drum up support.”
“Many Democrats are undecided and are not particularly engaged by the recall. It is likely Republican voters will be energized,” Schickler said. “He will need to get more engagement and enthusiasm for voting among core Democratic constituencies to be sure of holding the recall off.”