Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to fire up voters to stay in office — but he may be bolstering turnout among the very Californians who want to see him ousted in only the fourth gubernatorial recall in U.S. history.
A poll released Tuesday by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that 47 percent of likely voters would recall Newsom on Sept. 14, compared to 50 percent who would keep him in office — a difference just shy of the poll’s margin of error. The near-even split hinges on the category “likely voters”: Although California has nearly twice as many registered Democrats as it does Republicans, the poll found a whopping 87 percent of GOP voters are highly interested in the recall, compared to just 58 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of no-party preference voters.
“I think the Newsom campaign really has to light a fire among the Democrats and say, ‘Look, the outcome is in jeopardy unless you get out there and vote,’” said Mark DiCamillo, who directed the UC Berkeley poll.
“I think the Newsom campaign really has to light a fire among the Democrats and say, ‘Look, the outcome is in jeopardy unless you get out there and vote.’”Mark DiCamillo, poll director
Newsom appeared to make an overture to progressive voters on Tuesday, when he signed into law a bill extending Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor, to undocumented immigrants 50 and older. But the measure falls short of the state-funded single-payer health care system Newsom campaigned on, and he didn’t publicly support a bill — tabled earlier this year in the state Legislature — that would have created such a system. Also Tuesday, Newsom signed a bill funneling billions of dollars into California’s higher education system, though the most ambitious programs remain unfunded promises.
Meanwhile, Twitter was ablaze Tuesday with comparisons to the French Laundry scandal that stoked the recall after photos surfaced of Newsom’s maskless son sitting with other unmasked children at an indoor summer camp, despite state rules requiring kids to wear face coverings at day camps. A spokeswoman for the governor told the Sacramento Bee that the Newsoms hadn’t seen an email from the camp stating it wouldn’t enforce mask guidance, and that their kids would no longer attend the camp.
The summer camp news appears to have been broken by Reopen California Schools, a parent advocacy group that last week sued Newsom over a requirement that all students wear masks to school in the fall. Another parent group called Let Them Breathe also recently sued Newsom over the mask rule. That could bode poorly for Newsom, given that recall ballots will be mailed to Californians starting Aug. 16 — right around the time many parents will be sending their kids back to school.