CA voters ‘most likely to vote’ closely divided on Newsom recall, UC Berkeley study suggests

photo of Gavin Newsom
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
A report from UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies showed that the recall election for California Gov. Gavin Newsom is much closer among voters most likely to participate than among the general electorate. (Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0.)

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election is much closer among voters considered most likely to participate than among the general electorate, according to a UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, report released Tuesday.

The survey showed that 51% of the overall electorate favored retaining Gov. Gavin Newsom, with only 36% desiring the recall. However, when polling those who were most enthusiastic about voting in September, results showed that 47% of those voters favored Newsom’s recall, with 50% supporting retention.

IGS co-Director Eric Schickler said the poll reiterated that most registered voters support Newsom by “pretty good margins,” but noted that those “most likely to vote” desired the recall more than the general electorate. He said he attributes this to the partisan difference in voting enthusiasm.

“What we are seeing in the poll is that as of right now, there’s a big enthusiasm gap in terms of voting and intended voting,” Schickler said. “Republicans and those who don’t like Newsom are expressing a much stronger commitment to vote than Democrats and those who support Newsom.”

According to the IGS report, the survey was emailed to 5,795 registered voters in California randomly. The 3,266 responses were then weighted to represent the state population of registered voters in terms of partisanship, race, gender, region within the state, education and more, Schickler said.

The voting preferences were determined by prior voting history and interest in the recall vote, according to the report.

Schickler said the survey showed the recall election to be a kind of partisan, ideological battle. Democratic voters showed a tendency to oppose Newsom’s recall, while Republican voters showed a tendency to support it.

Under normal circumstances, this would mean a projected opposition to the recall. This time, however, it is more complicated given the asymmetry and difference in intensity, Schickler said.

In terms of demographic data, Schickler said the closest division was within the state’s white population, as a majority of both Black and Latinx voters support retaining Newsom.

He noted that the survey showed the Asian American population as having more support for the recall than expected.

“California is such a Democratic state that I think it’s easy for Democrats to get complacent and assume they’re just going to win just based on the dominance they’ve had in the last 15 years or so,” Schickler said. “They can’t make that assumption in this race.”

Schickler noted that the IGS team plans to conduct one more survey at the end of August before the recall election Sept. 15. He said he expects Newsom to spend millions in campaigning, which will possibly affect the August survey results.

Contact Dina Katgara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dinakatgara.