Newsom Leads in Polls as California Recall Election Nears
The shift appears to be driven by growing Democratic engagement — and by Democrats’ success in reframing the vote as a choice between Mr. Newsom and Larry Elder.,
Newsom opens a double-digit lead in polls as the election deadline nears.
By Maggie Astor
- Sept. 10, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET
When the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom qualified for the ballot in April, Democrats scoffed. It was a futile piece of theater from the far right, they said. California is, after all, one of the bluest states in the country.
Then, abruptly and to Democrats’ alarm, the polls tightened. “Keep” and “remove” drew almost even. The party dispatched leaders as high as Vice President Kamala Harris to campaign with Mr. Newsom.
And now, with the election days away, we seem to have circled right back to where we started.
Mr. Newsom has opened a double-digit lead in recent polls, and it appears to be growing. A polling average compiled by FiveThirtyEight had “keep” at 55.7 percent and “remove” at 41.3 percent as of Friday afternoon, and an average compiled by RealClearPolitics showed an even bigger gap, 56.7 percent to 41 percent. The last time an individual poll in either of those averages showed “remove” ahead was in early August.
The most recent poll was released Friday by The Los Angeles Times and the University of California, Berkeley, and found “keep” ahead by more than 20 percentage points.
The shift appears to have been driven by growing Democratic engagement — many Democrats were not paying attention to the recall before, or ignored it because they thought it would easily fail — and by Democrats’ success in reframing the campaign as a binary choice between Mr. Newsom and one Republican challenger, Larry Elder, as opposed to a referendum on Mr. Newsom himself.
Of course, polls are fallible — as the 2016 and 2020 elections certainly proved — and upsets are always possible. But the advantage, and the momentum, clearly belong to Mr. Newsom.