Gavin Going?

The recall election against Governor Newsom is headed for a dramatic, suspenseful conclusion on September 14th. Recent polling1,2 shows Newsom enjoys a 54% to 46% favorable result against the recall among all voters, but among those most likely to vote, there is a statistical tie with 48% favoring “yes” and 52% favoring “no.” The margin of error is +/- 4%. That’s why the Newsom campaign has focused exclusively on getting more Democratic voters to vote “no” on the first ballot question and has ignored the second question about selecting a replacement. Defeating the recall depends exclusively on getting more Democrats to vote.


While Democratic voters in California outnumber Republican voters by a 46.4% to 24.0% ratio3, a large disparity in enthusiasm exists between Democratic and Republican voters. Republican voters are highly excited; they see an opportunity to replace Newsom with one of their own, as happened in 2003 when Governor Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republican turnout is likely to be very high.


Among Democratic voters, two groups of voters are causing anguish for Newsom’s campaign: the complacent Democrats and the angry Democrats. These voters are most likely not to vote. Some angry Democrats may even vote “yes” on the recall question. Among angry Democrats, Newsom’s handling of the Covid shutdowns is frequently mentioned, notwithstanding that data shows California’s Covid performance is among the top ten for all states.


Complacent voters include those who believe Newsom should easily defeat the recall and their vote won’t matter, or are still unaware of the recall election. Angry voters also include those disappointed that Newsom hasn’t addressed California’s homelessness crisis and are still outraged by Newsom’s “French Laundry fiasco.”


Getting out the vote efforts – phone banking, canvassing, texting, and rallying – are the best ways for motivating complacent Democratic voters and increasing the chances of defeating the recall election.

1 CBS News/YouGov poll taken between August 6 – 12, 2021; sample size: n = 1,856 California adults; margin of error +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level: Click here to view poll.


2 UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll taken between July 18-24, 2021; sample size n = 5,795; margin of error +/- 2% at the 95% confidence level: Click here to view poll.


3 California Secretary of State July 16, 2021 Report of Registration: Click here to view.