Likely California voters are split on whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, but if they do oust him, conservative radio host Larry Elder leads the field to replace him, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey co-sponsored with the Los Angeles Times found that 47% of likely voters support the Sept. 14 recall and 50% oppose it, just outside the poll’s margin of error.
Leading the list of Republican candidates vying to supplant the Democratic governor is Mr. Elder, who qualified for the recall ballot just last week after a court fight with Secretary of State Shirley Weber.
Mr. Elder was the first choice of 18% of likely voters, followed by businessman John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who each took 10%, while 40% said they remain undecided.
Despite her celebrity status, reality television star Caitlyn Jenner drew just 3% support, putting her behind Assemblyman Kevin Kiley at 5% and real estate broker and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath with 3%.
The results were consistent with an Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll of registered voters released July 21 that found Mr. Elder leading the field with 16%, followed by Mr. Cox and Mr. Faulconer with 6%.
While Democrats have counted on their enormous registration advantage to save Mr. Newsom, the poll found that Republican voters are far more energized, with 90% expressing a high level of interest in the recall versus Democrats at 58% and Independents at 53%.
“Democrats, at least in the middle of July, almost unanimously believed that Newsom will defeat the recall. I think that may be contributing to some complacency among those voters. Republicans, on the other hand, are confident that they can turn out the governor,” poll director Mark DiCamillo told the Times. “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.’”
The percentage of registered voters — as opposed to likely voters — who support and oppose the recall remained static: 36% said they support ousting Mr. Newsom and 51% said they want him retained, almost identical to the Berkeley poll’s April split of 36% and 49%.
State officials will start mailing ballots to all active registered voters on Aug. 16 in keeping with a law signed last year by Mr. Newsom, although those who prefer to vote in person still have that option.