California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing the threat of a recall election after campaigners collected more than 2 million signatures. A successful recall requires 1.5 million valid signatures.
Newsom, a Democrat, has sought to frame the recall as a partisan effort by Republicans, but a major recent poll shows that it’s not just GOP supporters who want Newsom out.
Nexstar Media Group, which operates six TV stations in California, conducted a poll in conjunction with Emerson College that showed a stark divide among the state’s residents regardingNewsom’s future.
The poll, published on Monday, shows that 38 percent of voters in the state favor a recall, while 42 percent would vote to keep Newsom.
More than 50 percent of Californians would have to say “yes” on the recall question in order to remove Newsom.
A potentially decisive 13.9 percent of respondents were undecided.
If the recall is approved, a second question comes into play: Who should be chosen to replace the ousted governor. An incumbent cannot run to be their own replacement and Republicans may seize the opportunity to take the governorship, as they did with the ouster of former Governor Gray Davis in 2003.
“I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall—but I will fight it,” Newsom tweeted on Monday. “There is too much at stake. Getting Californians vaccinated, our economy safely reopened, and our kids back in school are simply too important to risk.”
The Nexstar/Emerson College poll indicates that support for the recall among Republicans stands at 86. 2 percent, but there are other warning signs for Newsom.
According to Monday’s poll, 39.4 percent of independents are in favor of recalling Newsom, with 34.5 percent against and 15.8 percent undecided. Those who said they wouldn’t vote stood at 10.3 percent.
Newsom won 53 percent of independents in the 2018 gubernatorial election compared to 46 percent for his Republican opponent John H. Cox, according to an exit poll conducted by CNN. Independents made up 31 percent of the electorate at the time.
The governor continues to enjoy broad support among Democrats, with 65.6 percent saying they would vote to keep him. However, a notable 11.8 percent of Democrats said they would vote in favor of recall, while 16.4 percent were undecided and 6.2 percent said they wouldn’t vote.
These figures could prove significant for Newsom. In 2018, he won 91 percent of the Democratic vote to Cox’s 6 percent, while Democrats made up 46 percent of the electorate.
If the poll results are borne out, a near 12-point swing against the governor among Democrats, combined with declining support from independent voters, would make a successful recall more likely. The number of as-yet undecided voters could also prove crucial.
However, Newsom’s tactic in fighting the recall appears to be focused on tying the effort to the Republican Party—a talking point that’s been echoed by his Democratic allies.
“In a naked partisan power grab, extreme right-wing Republicans are trying to recall @GavinNewsom,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said on Monday. “Why? Because he dares to listen to scientists and fights to put power in the hands of working people. Let’s have Gavin’s back.”
California Democrats have also launched a campaign called Stop the Republican Recall, which brands the campaign a “far-right Republican recall attempt.”