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OAKLAND – California’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis is making efforts to recall Governor Gavin Newsom difficult. A large majority of state voters are now in favor of his pandemic management and only 40 percent say they would remove him, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows.
Californians are increasingly optimistic about the state’s recovery as infection rates decline and more of the state becomes fully vaccinated while a wider range of businesses open. A whopping 90 percent of likely voters said they overwhelmingly believe the worst of the crisis lies behind the state, more than the 74 percent who said so in March.
The Democratic governor now enjoys a majority of approval for his job performance – 54 percent of all likely voters – and a more robust 64 percent support his handling of the pandemic, the poll found.
“Everything points to a lot more optimism about Covid, the economy and California,” said Mark Baldassare, President and CEO of PPIC, in an interview. “And in that context, the recall is now set for 2021 … Right now, people are feeling good about the economic outlook for the next 12 months – and mostly they feel good that the worst is behind us.”
The poll found that in today’s recall election, 57 percent of likely voters would vote no when Newsom was recalled, while 40 percent would vote yes and only 3 percent said they did not know.
PPIC did not interview respondents about various candidates who have announced that they will hold the by-pass election that would come into play if voters decide to recall the governor.
Baldassare said the matter remained deeply divided as “remarkably stable” support for the recall remained unchanged from March. The drive to oust Newsom is supported by 78 percent of Republicans, compared with 47 percent of Independents and 11 percent of Democrats.
The severe collapse “reflects the bipartisan nature of the state,” said Baldassare. With Democrats having a 46 to 24 percent registration advantage over Republicans, he added that “recall advocates cut their jobs for them”.
Republicans are far more interested in the recall than Democrats, according to a poll by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies earlier this month. That poll found that 75 percent of Republicans had a keen interest in the recall, more than double the percentage of Democrats and Independents who said the same thing. Democrats may have to work harder to get their voters in a special election, though they have the advantage of having passed a law requiring counties to send all voters another postal vote this year.
The recall has the highest support in the more conservative inland regions, including the Inland Empire (56 percent for) and the Central Valley (49 percent), and the least support in coastal areas, including Orange Counties and San Diego (42 percent) as well Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, both of which are 32 percent.
Among other key takeaways:
– Californians overwhelmingly support Newsom’s two budget proposals to capitalize on the state’s massive excess of financial aid to middle- and low-income residents. Seventy percent of adults – and two-thirds of likely voters – are in favor of giving Californians another round of $ 600 stimulus checks for those under $ 75,000 and another $ 500 for those with children. Overwhelming majorities across party lines – 81 percent overall and 77 percent of the likely voters – support his plan to help Covid-slammed Californians with funds to pay overdue rents and utility bills.
When it comes to vaccine distribution, 3 in 4 Californians say the state is doing a great (26 percent) or good (49 percent) job. Around 1 in 4 rates this as fair (17 percent) or bad work (6 percent). . The combined excellent / good ratings have increased 39 points since January when the state faced harsh criticism for its introduction.
– Concerns about getting Covid or being hospitalized have decreased. Only 19 percent express this concern, compared with 56 percent a year ago. The optimism is reflected in the future prospects of citizens: 56 percent of likely voters rate their financial situation today as excellent or good, while 51 percent expect good times for the US economy in the next 12 months.
Baldassare said the results underscore that Newsom is in a very different situation than former Governor Gray Davis, who was the only governor in California history to be recalled in 2003.
In the August 2003 PPIC poll, 47 percent of likely voters said it would get better if Davis was removed from office, while 17 percent said it would get worse. But today, only 29 percent said it would get better if Newsom was called back, while 34 percent said it would get worse – and 28 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.
At this point in 2003, Davis also had far worse approval ratings. The June 2003 PPIC poll found that 75 percent of likely voters disapproved of Davis, including 56 percent of Democrats.
The results show that “the majority of California’s voters are unlikely to be in the mood right now to change the status quo,” he said.
The poll of 1,705 Californians was conducted May 9-18, 2021 and has an overall margin of error of 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent for the likely voter sample of 1,074 respondents.