California Democrats in Congress are keeping a close eye on polls that show Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom expands California drought emergency statewide Don't break California's recall by 'fixing' it Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space 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 TorresGOP lawmakers introduce measure in support of Columbus Day Pelosi faces one big final battle California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election 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 WarrenDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter FDA proposes rule to offer over-the-counter hearing aids 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) KhannaWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting Paris Hilton to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for bill on children's treatment centers 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 SwalwellGOP ekes out win in return of Congressional Baseball Game Greene heckles Democrats and they fire back on Capitol steps Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod 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.”