President Biden campaigned today for California Governor Gavin Newsom ahead of tomorrow’s recall election. CNBC’s Scott Cohn joins Shep Smith to report. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO:
Gavin Newsom is the second California governor to ever face a recall election and is likely to be the first to survive one.
All eyes are on the Golden State ahead of Tuesday’s recall election, a fast-approaching deadline for registered voters in California to vote by mail or in person.
Polls close at 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
The Democratic governor has spent months vigorously campaigning against the recall effort, which he has characterized as a radical GOP power grab that has left his career and California’s future hanging in the balance.
With his more than $70 million war chest, Newsom has blanketed airwaves and digital spaces with anti-recall ads featuring prominent Democrats such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama. The governor has also made numerous campaign stops across the state to directly reach Democratic voters, and is even campaigned alongside President Joe Biden in Long Beach late Monday.
Newsom has also taken up new campaign messages to boost Democratic turnout, slamming his main opponent’s opposition to Covid mitigation measures. Among the 46 candidates running in the recall election, conservative talk show host Larry Elder has become the clear Republican frontrunner by speaking out against mask and vaccine mandates.
While Newsom was projected to face more of a tight race in the election just a month ago, his heavy campaign efforts seem to be paying off. Experts, recent polling and early ballot return rates all indicate that Newsom is now on course to easily defeat the recall effort.
“It’s going to take a major polling miss for the recall effort to succeed at this point,” Democratic consultant Michael Soneff said. “Newsom’s chances are very good. I’d rather be Gavin Newsom than anybody else in this race.”
Newsom’s newly motivated Democratic base
Despite Republican voters being outnumbered by Democrats in the state by nearly 2 to 1, complacency among Newsom’s Democratic supporters posed a potential threat to his chances of surviving the recall.
However, a poll released Friday by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times indicates that Democratic voters have become more engaged in the upcoming recall election. Sixty percent of likely voters in California said they would vote to keep Newsom in office, while just 39% would vote to recall him.
This is the first poll that has shown Newsom defeating the recall by more than 20 percentage points, a jump from the previous poll conducted by the same institutions just six weeks ago. The July poll showed a much closer race, with 50% of likely voters favoring Newsom’s retention and 47% favoring his recall.
A September poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed 58% of likely voters in favor of Newsom, while 39% wanted to remove him. SurveyUSA and The San Diego Union Tribune found 54% of likely voters in favor of keeping Newsom, a major swing from their August poll in which 51% favored removing him.
“It appears that the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats that has given so much life to the recall early on seems to have dissipated,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at three California universities who previously led the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
“Newsom spent most of the summer trying to convince the Democratic base that [the recall] is worth their time and attention. And it’s clear from the polls that he’s been successful in those efforts,” Schnur added.
This increased engagement among Democrats is also reflected in the rates of early mail-in ballot returns.
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