Last week there was a poll of likely California voters which showed a pretty surprising result: 47% of respondents wanted to recall Gov. Newsome compared to 50% who wanted to keep him in office. That was within the poll’s margin of error.
A few days later Newsom himself seemed to be hitting the panic button. In a possible bid to gin up state Democrats, Newsome warned that if he were recalled the effects would be felt “all across the country.” Even more surprising, in the same interview with a group of newspaper editorial boards, Newsom sounded a bit resigned. “I‘m a future ex-governor. It could happen in a few weeks, it could happen in a few years, but I love this damn state,” he said.
Another poll out today shows that the one last week wasn’t just a fluke.
An exclusive Inside California Politics / Emerson College poll found that support for the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom is increasing…
The race has tightened with 46% in favor of recalling Newsom and 48% of voters against his recall. The recall effort gained support by three percentage points since a July 22 Inside California Politics / Emerson College poll, the gain coming from voters who previously said they were undecided.
Last month’s poll showed 9% of voters were undecided and the vote to recall was at 43%.
So last month you had the poll at 43-48 with 9% undecided and this month it is 46-48 with 6% undecided. So it’s safe to say the undecided vote has not been breaking in Newsom’s favor thus far. One additional interesting fact is that support for Newsom in the poll is nearly even among white voters, 48-49. However, 54% of Hispanic respondents support the recall.
Newsom still has six weeks left to turn this around and his party is making an effort. NBC News pointed out yesterday that Democratic advertising against the recall is about 200-to-1 compared to the advertising in favor:
Newsom & Co. have spent $5.9 million in advertising from July 1 to Aug. 2, while Republicans and recall backers have spent just $27,500 during that same time period.
And when you look at future ad buys (from Aug. 3 to Sept. 14), Democrats hold a 150-to-1 advantage, $13.3 million to $86,000.
If Newsom narrowly survives this recall, it will be because of the massive spending advantage.
The strangest thing about this race is that Larry Elder leads the challengers. In this poll he’s at 23% with 40% still undecided. The idea of Larry Elder as Gov. of California is a lot like imagining Beto O’Rourke as Gov. of Texas. It’s just hard to see how it could happen because Elder is pretty conservative on a lot of issues. The Mercury News ran a story today pointing out that he’s against the minimum wage and wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But Elder does have some approaches that may be appealing to Californians across the aisle:
1. He says he’d tackle homelessness on his first day in office
Elder said one of the first things he’d do is declare a statewide emergency on homelessness and suspend the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which is meant to offer environmental protections and is often cited as a reason for opposing new construction, so that “developers and contractors can be unleashed” and put up hundreds of thousands of new housing units. Ample housing, combined with treatment for homeless people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse problems, he said, would allow the state to forcibly move people inside.
“People would be forced to get off the street,” he said.
2. Elder would get rid of pandemic mandates
Elder, who is vaccinated himself, said he would repeal mandates requiring state workers to get the coronavirus vaccine or face regular testing. He’s not a fan of mask mandates, either. Earlier in the pandemic, he said, such mandates were put in place to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed. “We’re not even close to over-stressing them right now,” he said. If people don’t want to get the vaccine, he argued, “it seems to me that’s their right.” And if the state is aiming for ridding itself of the virus entirely before ditching masks and other restrictions, he said, residents will be in pandemic-mode “forever.”
Elder has also retreated a bit from his confrontation stance about firing teachers, something that was sure to get unions mobilized against him:
3. He’s switched his tune on firing bad teachers
In the past, Elder suggested he would fire thousands of teachers in California. But this week, he said that “it’s almost impossible to fire an incompetent teacher,” suggesting he would focus on bringing in “more competition” in the form of charter and private schools to improve education instead.
At the moment, it appears Newsom’s best chance is that something will panic Democrats and send them to the polls. The recall is close to succeeding among likely voters precisely because so many registered Democratic voters are likely to stay home. The irony of this situation is that Democrats specifically changed the rules to allow the recall to happen sooner in the hopes that it would help Newsom survive. At the time he was riding a wave of good news about reopening the state. Now things are heading the other direction and the effort to hold the election early may have backfired on Democrats in a big way.