Newsom recall deadline approaches, UC Berkeley professors discuss potential poll results

photo of a recall ballot
Connor Lin/Senior Staff
A recall ballot instructs voters on how to vote by mail. Eligible voters have until Sept. 14 to vote on whether or not they wish to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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Eligible voters in California have until Sept. 14 to vote on the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The ballot will ask voters whether or not they wish to recall Newsom and, if the recall were to take place, who they want to replace him, according to the California Secretary of State website. If 50% or more of voters vote yes to the first question, Newsom will be removed from office and the person with the most votes will serve as the new governor.

Registered voters must either mail their ballot back or return it to a secure drop box or in-person voting location, according to a city press release. There are six drop boxes in Berkeley, all of which are open 24 hours a day.

These boxes are located at the Berkeley Civic Center Building, UC Berkeley, Frances Albrier Recreation Center, Claremont Branch Library, North Branch Library and West Branch Library, the press release adds.

While Newsom leads among registered voters, according to campus political science professor Eric Schickler, he polls much lower among likely voters. Latest surveys indicate that the recall is narrowly losing, but Schickler noted his distrust. He said there needs to be a focus on narrowing the enthusiasm gap.

“If Democrats show up in reasonable numbers, they win,” Schickler said. “If Democrats stay home, Newsom loses.”

The vote comes after an official petition to recall the governor obtained 1.6 million signatures in April, according to a previous Daily Cal article.

Campus associate professor of political science Terri Bimes said the COVID-19 pandemic made the effort more possible.

“The courts allowed an extra four months to the signature gatherers,” Bimes said. “During those four months, Gavin Newsom was caught having dinner at the French Laundry without a mask, undermining his own guidance for the pandemic.”

There are more than 100 candidates running to replace the governor, including Democrats, but the California Democratic Party has not voiced support for any potential replacement, Schickler said. Instead, their messaging has been focused exclusively on voting no to the recall.

According to Schickler, while this strategy might be tricky, it makes sense in light of the gubernatorial recall election in 2003. At the time, the Democratic governor was unpopular and Democrats offered support to the lieutenant governor.

The Democratic vote was indecisive, leading to a victory for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican candidate and celebrity, noted Schickler. 

This time around, the Democrats are approaching the vote as a race between Newsom and the Republican candidates, according to Schickler.

The California Republican Party has narrowed its choice candidates down to three contenders, with radio talk show host Larry Elder taking the lead, according to Bimes. Elder’s positions on policy issues are “extreme,” Bimes noted.

“There’s also a possibility that if something were to happen to Dianne Feinstein, the new governor could appoint a senator to replace her,” Bimes said. “Right now, the Senate is evenly divided. If Larry Elder were to appoint the senator, that would have an impact on the Senate.”

Voters have until Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. to submit their signed ballots. They can also vote in person at accessible voting locations throughout the county from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13.

Contact Andie Liu and David Villani at [email protected].