Just a couple weeks ago, it appeared California Governor Gavin Newsom could very well be removed in the western state’s special recall election on September 14—but more recent polling suggests the Democratic leader is better-positioned to remain in Sacramento for the remainder of his term.
When voters cast their ballots in 10 days, they will be asked whether they want to keep Newsom in office or remove him from power. If less than 50 percent of California voters back the governor, the challenger with the highest number of votes will become the state’s next governor.
While previous polling suggested that barely more than half of California voters wanted Newsom to remain in office, newer surveys show a more substantial lead for the Democratic governor. A poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California from August 20 to 29 found that 58 percent of the state’s voters wanted Newsom to stay and only 39 percent wanted him gone—a difference of nearly 20 percentage points in favor of the governor.
Another recent poll carried out from August 22 to 25 by Change Research showed that those who wanted to keep Newsom in office led those who wanted to remove him by 15 percentage points. Of those surveyed, 57 percent said they would keep the governor while just 42 percent said they’d remove him.
Trafalgar Group, a Georgia-based polling company that predicted Trump’s win in 2016, conducted a poll in California from August 26 to 29. Its results showed 52 percent of Californians saying they wanted to keep Newsom and only 44 percent saying they wanted him removed.
But recent polling by SurveyUSA shows only 51 percent of Californians backing Newsom, as does a recent survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies. Although those polls show the Democratic governor above water, the margin is close and within their margins of error.
None of Newsom’s challengers are polling much above 20 percent. Yet under the California recall election rules, the challenger with the highest number of votes will win if the current governor does not garner more than 50 percent support on the question whether he should remain or be removed.
Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, a Republican candidate, has emerged as the frontrunner among Newsom’s challengers. Elder is backed by about 22.6 percent of California voters, according to a polling average compiled by FiveThirtyEight. If the GOP candidate—or another Republican challenger—manages to win the recall, it would represent a significant upset in a state that is estimated to have twice as many Democratic voters as Republicans.