New Poll Shows Newsom Ahead In Recall Vote, But Latinos Could Be A Problem For Governor

Gavin Newsom
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom via KSEE/KGPE

A new poll of 900 Californians shows embattled governor Gavin Newsom narrowly beating the recall vote he seems almost certain to face this fall.

Of likely voters, 52.5% say they would vote against recalling the governor. In that same category, 34.6% say they would vote in favor of the effort. Among all voters, the delta narrows, with 45.7% saying they would vote “No” and 40% asserting they would vote “Yes” to recall Newsom. Those numbers are slightly better for the governor than the results of another such survey released March 15.

The poll was conducted from March 16-19 by Probolsky Research via telephone and online among prospective California voters. The survey carried a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

Republicans queried overwhelmingly want to oust Newsom, but centrist voters unaligned with either party narrowly favor of allowing the governor to finish his term. The 2.4% gap among centrist voters is, however, inside the poll’s margin of error.

On the bright side for the governor is substantial support among women, 47.7% of whom said they would vote against the recall.

One of the biggest potential hurdles in the data for Newsom is the 44.5% of Latino voters who plan to vote “Yes” and oust him. That’s compared to 41.4% who will vote “No.” About 40% of the state’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data.

That anti-Newsom sentiment among Latinos correlates with the region of California that most heavily supports the recall: the San Joaquin Valley.

The heavily agricultural region over-indexes Latino, with 46% of the population there identifying as such. Central Valley voters are, according to the poll, the most likely in the state to vote in favor of recalling Newsom, at 52.1%. The next-closest region is Southern California outside of L.A. That region weighed in at 42.1%.

The heavily Latino makeup of recall supporters may be one reason Newsom has barnstormed the state in recent weeks making frequent stops in the Central Valley, twice at Dodger Stadium — home to a fervent Latino fan base — and even at a vaccination clinic for farmworkers in the Coachella Valley. The novelty of that visit was not lost on local elected officials.

“He is the first governor to ever visit the city of Coachella,” said Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, whose district encompasses the Coachella Valley, before Newsom spoke.

The governor has also made what he calls “the idea of equity” central to the state’s vaccination program, tying counties’ ability to reopen to their success in administering shots to the state’s most economically-underserved quartile of residents. He has, more generally, begun more rapidly easing Covid-19 restrictions as the recall effort has intensified.

About 10 days ago, the group organizing the recall announced it had collected over 2 million signatures, all but guaranteeing a vote this fall. About 1,500,000 signatures are needed to trigger a recall election under state law.

From the start, organizers have set out with a goal of collecting 2 million signatures in order to assure they had enough verifiable submissions. The signatures have been submitted to county registrars who until April 29 to verify them. If more than 1,497,000 are valid, a recall vote will be triggered, likely in November. That ballot will feature just two questions: “Should Gavin Newsom be recalled?” and another asking voters to choose a replacement.

Newsom officially launched his campaign against the recall last week, characterizing some of its proponents as “violent white supremacists like the Proud Boys who attacked our nation’s capitol on January 6th.”

If Newsom beats the recall, it likely won’t be in the landslide that saw him succeed Jerry Brown in 2018. It may come down to the alternatives voters are offered. Lacking a superstar candidate like the Terminator, the state GOP is divided — and politicians usually win not because of their own merits, but their enemies’ shortcomings.

So the new Probolsky Research poll may point to another Newsom weakness along those lines: His vulnerability to a rival who appeals to disaffected Latino voters. Antonio Villaragosa, are you listening?

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