Polling Favorable to Newsom in CA

It is closer than Newsom might want, but the numbers are favorable to him.

In less than two weeks we will know if the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom will be successful or not. New polling suggests that the Governor is likely to keep his job. The LAT reports: The effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is struggling, new California poll shows.

Most likely California voters are opposed to the Republican-led recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom and a growing number fear the consequences of removing him from office with a hard-right conservative best positioned to take his place, according to new poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. 

The poll found that 58% of likely voters surveyed in California oppose removing Newsom from office compared to 39% who support recalling the governor, a gap rooted in the sharp partisan divide between Democratic and Republican voters in the state.

Those numbers, which are quite favorable, are more positive than the FiveThirtyEight polling average (but, note, the above poll has not yet been included in this aggregation):

Going by the average, it is pretty close, but it is also worth pointing out that more recent polls are more favorable to keeping Newsom and much of the angst being felt by California Democrats is fueled by polling from some weeks back.

I still maintain that one of the more interesting aspects of this will be what turnout actually ends up being since all voters can vote by mail over a one-month period. So while there has been concern about voter apathy, the ease of voting may overcome the impulse to abstain (especially more so than if people had to physically go to the polls). This is interesting from a voting mechanics/process point of view. The overall outcome is especially interesting to me from a representational point of view. After all, the goal of elections ought to be to find out the will of the electorate and the process has some problems in that regard, as I have already noted. So I am curious to see how it all plays out.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2021, Elections, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Last week there was a data point that ballot returns in historically Dem precincts were strong and less so in R precincts. An indication that Newsom is in good shape. Given that is ~week old news, it will be interesting to see an update.

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  2. Scott F. says:

    I still maintain that one of the more interesting aspects of this will be what turnout actually ends up being since all voters can vote by mail over a one-month period.

    From this California voter’s perspective, the voting experience couldn’t have been easier. The ballots arrived at our home exactly on time without our having to request them well in advance. The only complexity in the ballot was how to vote on the second question of who should replace Newsom if he were recalled. (I wrote in the Lt. Gov.) My signature is right there on the outer envelope to check against fraud. While, we could have put our ballots in a mailbox that day – postage paid – we chose to drive over to the local library to put them directly in a drop box. I can track ballot status online.

    If it’s true that “the goal of elections ought to be to find out the will of the electorate,” all voting would be done this way. Unfortunately, too many Republicans don’t believe this is the goal of elections, so this level of efficiency, security, and convenience will continue to be denied to most US voters.

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  3. Michael Cain says:

    I still maintain that one of the more interesting aspects of this will be what turnout actually ends up being since all voters can vote by mail over a one-month period.

    I don’t think it will be that interesting. The base case that you’re comparing it to, what was in use pre-pandemic, was a permanent mail ballot list with >70% of California registered voters on it. For a quite large majority of California voters, 2020 (and now the recall election) were conducted in the same way they were already used to.

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  4. Kylopod says:

    So while there has been concern about voter apathy, the ease of voting may overcome the impulse to abstain (especially more so than if people had to physically go to the polls).

    I continue to think the primary cause of the 2020 polling misfire was the how the pandemic affected turnout–specifically, two problems: (1) the difficulty estimating turnout from an unprecedented expansion of vote-by-mail (2) the lack of on-the-ground campaigning on the part of Democrats who were likelier than Republicans to observe Covid safety restrictions.

    Yet in all this, California had one of the most accurate polling results in the country last year (538 predicted Biden’s exact margin over Trump, 29.2).

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  5. @Michael Cain:

    I don’t think it will be that interesting.

    Well, we don’t all have to find it interesting, I suppose. 😉

    I recognize that that is not a new process. My point is that the only way Newsom loses is by lack of participation, but participating isn’t hard. As such, if there really is low turnout, that is an interesting data point, and likewise, if all the hand-wringing about low turnout turns out to be nothing, that, too, will be of interest.

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  6. All of which makes me think of:

    Mr. Spock : [referring to Dr. Daystrom] Most illogical. Of all people, he should have known how the computer would perform. Of course, the M-5 itself has not behaved logically.

    Dr. McCoy : Please, Spock, do me a favor, and don’t say it’s fascinating.

    Mr. Spock : No. But it is… interesting.

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  7. gustopher says:

    Perhaps, after all this is done, it will be time for California to fix their recall process, so the replacement has to get more votes than the governor being replaced.

    Or have the Lt. Gov succeed temporarily and trigger a special election, with a run-off.

    Just fix this idiot process so it cannot be used to pervert democracy.

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  8. Michael Cain says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Absolutely turnout will be interesting. Will it look like 2020, where California set records in recent history? Or will it go back to the normal fairly miserable level? Trying to tie either outcome to the marginal mail voter will be tough, I think. Experience in other western states has been that jumping from something else to full vote by mail causes a small increase in turnout, but not a very big one (you can send the disinterested voter a ballot, but you can’t make them fill it out). At least IMO, the 2020 turnout wasn’t because of increased mail ballots, it was because Trump had spent four years trying to run a regulatory war against the state and there were lots of angry people. I read the LA Times in the mornings after my local papers, and there just isn’t the same level of emotion.

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  9. al Ameda says:

    another Californian weighing in …

    I received my ballot in the mail about 2 weeks ago, completed it, signed it, returned it, and in the next 4 days or so, I received text messages from the county that (1) they received my ballot, and (2) they processed it

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  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    So, looking at that plot, I think that Aug 1 is when they turned on the “likely voter” screens. Of course, many Democrats hadn’t even heard about the recall at that point.

    And, it must be confessed, I have a certain lack of enthusiasm for Newsom. I can point to the last general, in which he didn’t bother to put a statement in the official state Voter Guide. I mean, how hard can it be to designate a staffer to spend a day or whatever making that happen?

    He’s kind of taking it for granted, which I don’t appreciate.

    AND, there’s no way I’m gonna recall him over that, or let some fool who gets 10 percent of the vote to take over his office.

    Over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen 3 ads on YouTube advocating “NO” on the recall. Two of them, in heavy rotation, feature Warren and Sanders calling on me to “Stop the Republican power grab”. The third actually defends the state’s covid policy and approach, and it’s pretty hard hitting too.

    I expect this stuff isn’t changing minds so much as informing and motivating people.

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  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Jay L Gischer: The soft murmur in the background is MSNBC today. They had a talker on this afternoon that made the point that Gov Newsom has a huge (?70M$) financial advantage and can spend the next couple weeks blasting the electorate with unanswered ads. Sounded like a big deal.

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  12. Michael Cain says:

    Following up on a couple of the Californians’ comments, a couple of decades observing and then being on the legislative staff in a western state, makes me confident to say that the vast majority of western voters — meaning the Census Bureau’s 13-state western region, and on the order of 75% or more — firmly believe “You can have my mail ballot when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.” Blue states, red states… “When you pry it from my cold dead fingers.” During this year’s legislative session season, with a huge number of East Coast pundits ranting about the bills introduced in the Arizona legislature that would restrict vote by mail, there was almost no mention that all but one minor restriction was bottled up tightly in committee by the Republican leadership, never to see the light of day.

    Show me a non-marginal western pundit who thinks opposing either vote by mail or redistricting commissions is a viable path forward for state-level Republicans.

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  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Cain: It’s true. I know of nobody out here who thinks vote by mail is bad. It’s a fantastic way to vote, seems at least as secure as voting at a polling place, and is so much easier to manage. You plop down on the couch or whatever with the voter’s guide, and work through all the issues you haven’t already figured out.

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  14. tfourier says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Well here is one Californian who thinks voting by mail is a terrible idea. It makes fraud so much easier than in the good old days. There again I live in San Francisco which has an illustrious history of blatant voter fraud going back to 1849. If you have spent a few decades reading through the voting results patterns for the City its pretty easy to spot where the “bough” votes go. And who bought them.

    Also both SF and LA have pretty unique vote reg and precinct demographic voting patterns. Like registration rates great than 100%. And equally unfeasible turnouts. Back before Motor Voter the party machine had to work hard to get that extra 5% edge. Motor Voter made 5% easy and Mail in Ballots made even 10% /15% “swings” for certain Props or candidates pretty easy to arrange.

    Very different voting patterns up in Marin and down in San Mateo but in SF voter fraud has never been easier. Due to mail in ballots. The story in LA has been even more blatant the last decade or two. In some parts of LA they dont even bother to hide the evidence.

    Nothing really has changed since the days of Art Samish. The way retail politics works. And Newsom like Davis was very much the result of retail politics. They most certainly did not rise purely on ability. Especially Newsom. A pleasant non-entity in person. Very much of his class.

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  15. @tfourier:

    It makes fraud so much easier than in the good old days.

    What evidence would you bring for that claim?

    Back before Motor Voter the party machine had to work hard to get that extra 5% edge.

    Are you suggesting that increasing voter registration is a bad thing?

    Motor Voter made 5% easy and Mail in Ballots made even 10% /15% “swings” for certain Props or candidates pretty easy to arrange./blockquote>

    What does that mean?

    They most certainly did not rise purely on ability.

    No politician does, do they?

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  16. tfourier says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    > What evidence would you bring for that claim?

    I would hazard a guess you either do not live in a big city with long established party machine politics or else are totally unfamiliar of the local political history of the city you live in. If you were you would be quite well aware of the traditional ways of “increasing turnout” with physical ballots. They are both time consuming and need serious organization. Over the last few decades pretty much all the traditional checks and roadblocks to keeping at least a reasonable lid of fraudulent voting have been progressively removed.

    I remember when Motor Voter was brought it. The claim was it would increase turnout. Yet study after study of voting patterns in subsequent elections showed little meaningful change in actual turn out. The same goes for same day registration.

    The “low turnout” claims I saw trumpeted as the reason for all theses changes were based on completely spurious statistics. Using total population of a district rather than total number of those qualified to vote. So of course SF would always have far lower turnouts by this logic than Marin, Napa or Sonoma. Because SF has a far greater percentage of non citizens.

    Among those qualified to vote the turnout has been pretty steady over the decades. When voters are given a legitimate choice. Which has not been true in most CA districts for the last decade.

    Thats the lie that Motor Voter, etc has been based on. At least around here. No real change in turnout of those qualified to vote but it sure makes it easy for the party machine to get the results it needs. At least in places like SF and LA.

    > What does that mean?
    >
    > They most certainly did not rise purely on ability.
    >
    > No politician does, do they?

    Last few Govs. Well Newsom is a photogenic nonentity whose political career, like Kamalas, is purely a creation of Willie Brown.

    Jerry Brown was a brand name with very deep pocket backers. A hereditary politician who only had a political career because he was his fathers son.

    Schwarzenegger only happened because Grey Davis was so incompetent.

    Grey Davis was the competent number two who was catastrophically incompetent when put in command. I was genuinely shocked at how bad he was as Gov.

    Wilson was the good big city major who was a so so Governor.

    Deukmejian was very good at what he did. The last competent Gov.

    etc, etc

    I can think of two Govs who got were they got on pure ability and little else, Pat Brown and Earl Warren. Both exceptional state politicians, especially Earl Warren.

    There are lots of sock puppet politicians. Gavin Newsom is one of the best examples. Probably the most ineffectual mayor of SF in a long time. And that list includes embarrassments like Frank Jordan and John Shelley.

    All politics is local. Like Pelosi’s direct connection with rise of Jim Jones via her working for Phil Burton at the time. But thats another story.

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  17. @tfourier: I appreciate your willingness to engage, but I have to admit that all of this is just a non-answer.

    If you are going to assert, as you did, that mail-in “makes fraud so much easier than in the good old days” then it is not unreasonable to ask for evidence to back that claim Instead, you carry on about turnout.

    And while it may well be that Motor Voter didn’t increase turnout, what does that have to do with voter fraud?

    I would love to see a metric that could definitively measure “pure ability” for that matter.

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  18. tfourier says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    So I would gather you dont live in a big city with a party machine, have not been following closely the political machinations that go on in cities like that for decades, and are completely unfamiliar with political history of those cities. As fought at the precinct level.

    You obviously dont have the slightest idea how political works at this level. I suppose you want a nice neat paper written by some grad student. Who knows even less about retail politics. If you did you would be swapping local war stories or talk about amelioration mechanism. But instead you want “proof”. What ever that is.

    But there again I got my political education on the subject back in the 1980’s during long conversations with someone who was one NY City Councilmen under Le Guardia who cleaned up municipal corruption and cleaned out the party machine that was honed by Gentleman Jim, Jimmy Walker. Great stories told by a politically very astute man. Stories of the day to day mechanics of city politics that were just as true in SF run by Willie Brown or Chicago under Richard Daley. Father and Son.

    So how can I “prove” something to someone who does not even seem to be aware that this part of politics actually exists. If you knew how this level of politics of works you would know why breaking the physical ballot model makes such a big difference in places where big city party machine are are control. But not much difference out in the suburbs. But when big cities controlled by party machines are the swing vote in most blue states it makes a very big difference in the bigger scheme of things.

    Here is a hint. People who play politics and know how the game is played talk about the subject I have. Because they are the ones that matter when it comes to winning. And for those big city player who want to get an edge, mail in ballot have been the gift that keeps on giving. But you would have known that already if you had seen how the sausage is actually made.

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  19. @tfourier:

    So I would gather you dont live in a big city with a party machine, have not been following closely the political machinations that go on in cities like that for decades, and are completely unfamiliar with political history of those cities. As fought at the precinct level.

    This is a non-response.

    But instead you want “proof”. What ever that is.

    I asked for evidence for your position. All I am getting are non-sequiturs and assertions.

    But there again I got my political education on the subject back in the 1980’s during long conversations with someone who was one NY City Councilmen under Le Guardia who cleaned up municipal corruption and cleaned out the party machine that was honed by Gentleman Jim, Jimmy Walker. Great stories told by a politically very astute man. Stories of the day to day mechanics of city politics that were just as true in SF run by Willie Brown or Chicago under Richard Daley. Father and Son.

    What does any of that have to do with your original statement that mail-in voting “makes fraud so much easier”?

    Do you not see the disconnect?

    Here is a hint. People who play politics and know how the game is played talk about the subject I have. Because they are the ones that matter when it comes to winning. And for those big city player who want to get an edge, mail in ballot have been the gift that keeps on giving. But you would have known that already if you had seen how the sausage is actually made.

    Oddly, I am not persuaded by someone asserting they have special and secret knowledge that only a certain kind insider has. You have not attempted to explain your position in the least.

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