California governor Gavin Newsom may be losing support of some of the state's Latino population as he faces the possibility of a recall election later this year, polling data shows.
Opponents of Newsom have been collected signatures necessary for the state to trigger the recall election. Organizers of the movement cite a number of reasons for the move, including Newsom's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, rising costs of living and worsening housing problems.
By April 29, registrars in 58 California counties must verify that the 1.5 million necessary signatures to hold the recall election have been received. By March 17, organizers of the current recall effort said they'd received more than 2.1 million signatures.
The Secretary of State must inform the counties of the total signature count by May 9. If successful, a recall election is likely to take place in the fall, most likely in mid or late November.
A poll conducted by Probolsky Research between March 16 and 19 shows that 52.5% of likely voters would be against recalling the governor, with 34.6% saying that they would in favor of the move.
"The poll is a snapshot in time. It says that the recall would fail as of today. But we are not absent of people who want to recall the governor in California. More than a third of voters do," Probolsky Research president Adam Probolsky said in an interview with LPO.
"Still, the challenge for the proponents [of a recall] is that they're starting at a disadvantage."
The statistics suggest, however, that Newsom is losing support among the Latino population. Of the total, 44.5% of Latino voters said they wanted to recall the governor, compared to 41.4% who did not.
Approximately 40% of California's population identifies as Latino or Hispanic, according to census data.
Voters in California's Central Valley - where 46% of the population identify as Latino - were found to be the most in favor of the recall, with 52.1% of voters expressing support. In southern California (excluding Los Angeles), 42.1% of voters said were they in favor.
"That's a heavily Latino, heavily immigrant part of the state," Probolsky explained. "The Central Valley doesn't really have the same resources as other parts of the state. I think sometimes it feels as if it's left behind, and that's probably what many feel during this time of a health crisis and global pandemic...I think they're looking to lay the blame that they're part of California and their community was not taken care of."
Additionally, Probolsky said that support for a recall in the Latino community - and across the state - may rise if they are presented with a "credible alternative" to Newsom.
"There's no real specific alternative," he said. "We don't have a credible opponent that has the â€˜secret sauce' or the magic to take the governor on and make a case for it."
On March 15, Newsom officially launched a campaign dubbed "Stop the Republican Recall".
The campaign's website claims that the campaign is "powered by a partisan, Republican coalition of national Republicans, anti-vaxxers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-immigrant activists and Trump supporters."
"Instead of fighting Covid-19, Republicans are pulling a page from the Trump playbook and attacking Californians," the website added.
Probolsky said that while laying the blame on Republicans can be a "convenient message", the data suggests that may be an inaccurate assessment of the political situation, with more than 30% of Democratic voters saying they support a recall or remain unsure.
"I think it's not necessarily a genuine representation of the facts, although it's certainly Republican led," he said of the Newsom's anti-recall campaign message. "I don't think it's an accurate characterization, but I think it's a smart one politically."
Probolsky said that he believes the results may be very different later in the year - closer to the date of the potential recall election - after Newsom opponents have a chance to campaign in favor of his recall.
"The proponents of this recall have focused their energy and money on collecting signatures at this point," he said. "It's not like that they have done a lot of work of communicating with voters, making the case for a recall. That will come, assuming they get the signatures. I'm sure it will be powerful, assuming that they have the money to do it."
Prominent Republicans have expressed their support for the recall. The Republican National Committee, for example, spent $250,000 encouraging people to sign the petition, while the California Republican Party has so far donated more than $175,000 to pro-recall groups. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have also come out in favor.
In February, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden opposes any effort to recall Newsom. A number of other prominent Democrats - including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren - have also become outspoken opponents of the recall campaign.
Latina labor icon Dolores Huerta - who founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962 - has also spoken out against the recall.
"The Republicans know they can't win a regular statewide election. So, they are trying to rig the system with this recall to block critical health care reforms, deny immigrants their rights and delay the progressive changes we need to make California a better place for everyone," she said last week.
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