California likely voters are split 52%/48% on whether to recall Gavin Newsom

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
August 17, 2021, 2:40 PM UTC

Next month, Californians determine whether Governor Gavin Newsom should be recalled from the state’s highest office. California voters have begun receiving their mail-in ballots, with Election Day slated for September 14.

A new CBS News/YouGov poll indicates that Newsom may face a challenge in turning out the voters needed to keep him in office. Among registered California voters, the desire to retain Newsom (54%) is 8-points higher than the hope of recalling him (46%). But likely voters in California are split on whether to recall Newsom: 48% say he should be recalled, while 52% want him to stay in office.  

All eligible voters will be asked whether Newsom should be recalled and who should replace him if he is recalled. If most California voters decline to recall him, then the Democratic governor will keep his position. If a majority votes yes, then the alternative candidate who earns the highest number of votes will replace him. There are 46 candidates running to challenge Newsom’s leadership of the state, including conservative radio host Larry Elder and former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner

The state’s most eager voters appear driven to remove the sitting governor. Two-thirds of registered voters in the state (65%) say they are “very motivated” to vote in the upcoming election. California Republicans (72%) are much more likely than Democrats (61%) in the state to describe themselves as enthusiastic about voting in the recall election. 

Nearly all likely Californian voters who want to recall Governor Newsom say that they hope to oppose him and the job he is doing (96%). About two-thirds of likely voters who intend to back the recall (64%) are driven by a desire to oppose the Democratic party. Three in five (60%) aspire to put a Republican into the state’s governor office. About half (48%) are motivated by a desire to make a change or shake things up in the state. 

About nine in 10 likely California voters who plan to vote to keep Governor Newsom in office (91%) say they do not support the recall election happening in the first place. Four in five (80%) want to express their support for the Democratic governor and the job he is doing. About three-quarters of “no” voters want to stop a Republican from being elected to the seat, and two-thirds (65%) want to show support for the Democratic Party. 

Related: Americans support vaccine mandates for teachers, airline workers, and police officers 

Methodology: This CBS News survey was fielded by YouGov with a representative sample of 1,856 California adult residents interviewed between August 6 - 12, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. The margin of error is ± 4.0 points for the total sample. 

Image: Getty