Gavin Newsom would survive a recall if it went to California voters today, new poll shows

If a recall election were held today, Gov. Gavin Newsom would likely survive, according to the latest poll released from the Public Policy Institute of California.

In interviews with more than 1,700 Californians conducted between March 14 and March 23, 56% of respondents said they would vote no to a recall, with 40% saying they would vote yes and 5% saying they were unsure.

The same survey showed positive results for the governor’s approval rating, support for his COVID-19 relief package, and strong support among Democratic voters.

Backers of the recall campaign have collected 2.1 million signatures from voters calling for a recall and will likely trigger an election in the fall.

Mark Baldassare, president of the polling organization, compared the results to Newsom’s election three years ago, when he defeated Republican candidate John Cox by a wide margin.

“The share who would now vote to remove the governor is similar to the 38 percent who did not vote for Newsom in the fall of 2018,” Baldassare said.

Just over half of likely voters, 53%, told PPIC they approved of how Newsom is handling his job as governor, which is similar to the 52% rate reported in January.

The governor’s approval ratings have held steady over the past year. In February 2020, prior to Newsom’s stay-at-home orders, 52% of likely voters approved of his performance, according to PPIC. Peak approval for the governor was in May 2020, when 64% of likely voters said they approved of his performance.

In a blog post, Baldassare said Newsom’s approval rating is important in determining support for the recall. Just 4% of those who approve of Newsom would vote to recall him, compared to 87% of those who disapprove of him.

Recall feelings are also correlated with party affiliation, according to the PPIC poll. When it comes to removing the governor, 79% of Republicans said they would vote yes, compared to 42% of independents and 15% of Democrats.

The poll showed regional disparities in support for the recall. Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor, has a stronghold in the Bay Area. Just 27% of those surveyed from that region want to recall him.

In the Central Valley, 49% said they would vote to remove Newsom, compared to 47% in the Inland Empire, 41% in Orange and San Diego counties and 40% in Los Angeles.

In analyzing the results of the latest survey, Baldassare said Newsom has some advantages that former Gov. Gray Davis lacked when voters recalled Davis in 2003.

“The successful recall of the governor in 2003 occurred in a very different political context. Gov. Gray Davis had been reelected by a 5-point margin in November 2002 … Newsom was elected by a 24-point margin in November 2018… Democrats had a 9-point edge over Republicans in voter registration in 2003… today, they have a 22-point edge,” Baldassare wrote.

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