California Democrats in Congress are keeping a close eye on polls that show Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomFeehery: The confidence game Biden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Equity is key to resilience — three ways make it a priority MORE (D) narrowly fending off a recall campaign amid concerns that Republican voters are disproportionately likely to be interested in casting ballots that would kick him out of office.
In interviews this week, Democrats cast the recall as a Republican power grab, one that will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars to administer just a year before Newsom faces voters at the end of his first term — but one that Newsom could ultimately lose.
“I see a real scenario where the governor loses if people don’t come out and vote, if Democrats stay home, if Democrats underestimate the power of fake news, you know the power of rumors. We cannot stand still. I think we should have learned that with Trump,” said Rep. Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate House Democrat says she sleeps with gun nearby after clashing with El Salvador's president MORE (D).
Polls show most California voters oppose recalling Newsom from office, but by a narrowing margin. Among those who are most likely to cast a ballot in the Sept. 14 recall, the margin is even closer — a poll conducted for the University of California-Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found the recall trailing 36 percent to 51 percent among registered voters, but by just 47 percent to 50 percent among likely voters.
Though Democrats outnumber Republicans by about a 2-to-1 margin, Republican voters are far more likely to say they are excited to vote in the recall.
“These results make plain that the big question surrounding the recall will be whether the Newsom campaign and Democratic activists are able to get Democratic voters more engaged and interested in voting in September,” said Eric Schickler, the poll’s co-director.
Getting out the vote, especially among Democratic voters, is going to be key to Newsom’s survival.
“The campaign needs to get going, and it’s good for the governor to hear that, get him out more and start taking this more seriously,” Torres said.
Newsom’s campaign has begun spending money on paid advertisements, the latest featuring Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants MORE (D-Mass.). Vice President Harris, a close Newsom ally from their days coming up through San Francisco politics, has said she will campaign for the governor.
“It’s going to be a very tight race,” Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Rocky US alliances as Biden heads to UN assembly Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Dems demand accounting from Big Oil MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill. “I think people realize this is not a slam dunk.”
“He just has to focus on turnout. And I think he has to speak to the progressive base,” Khanna said. “He’s got to make sure the progressive base really turns out.”
Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (D-Calif.) criticized rules that allow any politician’s opponents to force them back on the ballot with such a relatively small number of signatures. Newsom foes collected more than 2 million signatures to qualify the recall election, more than the roughly 1.5 million they needed.
“Two of the last three Dem govs have gone through this. It’s costly for the state when we need to be helping people, you know, affected by COVID,” Swalwell said in an interview. “He’s going to survive it, but I do hope that long term the bar is not so low to spend $200 million for a partisan recall.”