UC Berkeley poll shows strong support for Newsom ahead of recall election

Photo of Gavin Newsom
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
A poll released by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies indicates that more than 60% of likely voters in the recall election want to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office. Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0

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With just a day left before California’s recall election, a poll released Friday by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, indicates that more than 60% of likely voters plan to vote to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office.

The study, which surveyed nearly 10,000 likely California voters, shows that only 38.5% of likely voters will vote for Newsom’s recall. These numbers differ largely from those of an IGS poll from six weeks ago, in which 47% of likely voters supported the recall and 50% opposed it.

“In July, Republicans were interested in the election and were going to show up and vote. Democrats weren’t,” said campus professor Eric Schickler, co-director of the IGS. “Now, Democrats are just as interested or almost as interested in voting as Republicans. And since California is such a heavily Democratic state, that gives Newsom a real advantage.”

The poll also found that the conservative Republican radio host Larry Elder jumped to a clear lead in the second question on the ballot, which asks who should replace Newsom should he be recalled. Elder polls at 38%, up from 18% in late July.

However, nearly a third of all likely voters and 48% of Democratic likely voters said they would leave this question blank, according to the poll.

Schickler said Newsom’s rise in the polls can partially be attributed to the prospect of Elder’s victory.

“I think the main reason for this shift is just Democrats started hearing about what would happen if Newsom loses and in particular that he would likely be replaced by a really conservative Republican like Larry Elder,” Schickler said. “It was no longer this situation of ‘well, do I love Newsom or not’, it was ‘do I prefer Newsom to the alternative.’ ”

The IGS poll is not the only one to show Newsom in the lead, but unlike some other polls circulating, it factors in the question of who is a likely voter, said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the IGS poll.

Respondents were virtually surveyed and asked about their voting plans. Then, the poll administrators checked public voter files to analyze respondents’ past voting histories to determine whether they are likely voters.

It remains to be seen whether the projections of the survey are accurate, but Schickler expects that a decisive victory for Newsom could strengthen his administration.

“If he survives by the kind of margin we’re showing, I think he’ll be putting himself in pretty good shape for 2022,” Schickler said. “He’ll emerge in a lot of ways in a stronger position than he started.”

Voters have until Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. to vote in person at accessible voting locations throughout the state and submit their signed ballots by mail.

Contact David Villani at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @DavidVillani7.