With the COVID-19 pandemic seeming to recede and a recall election looming, just over half of Californians and likely voters approve of Governor Newsom. This is essentially unchanged from January 2021, though his job approval has fallen about 11 points from its peak last May. PPIC associate survey director and senior fellow Dean Bonner presented these and other findings from the March statewide survey then discussed insights from the report with Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
Signs are pointing to a recall election for Newsom as officials verify signatures. If the election were held today, four in ten likely voters would remove the governor from office, while 56% would vote to keep him. Bonner highlighted a deep partisan divide on this issue, along with a gender divide: about half of men support recall but two-thirds of women prefer that the governor stay in office.
“This is the first time we asked about the governor’s recall this year,” Baldassare said. In 2003, PPIC surveyed Californians about the recall of Governor Davis four times. “We can rely on that previous work to offer some perspective.” Baldassare provided five key takeaways on the 2021 governor’s recall in a recent blog.
In late February, Governor Newsom signed a $7.6 billion COVID relief package, which overwhelming majorities of Californians support. The relief package sends 5.7 million lower-income Californians a $600 check, and includes $2.1 billion for small businesses and $400 million for subsidized childcare.
While the relief package intends to help Californians hit hardest by the pandemic, adults are feeling less anxiety around the coronavirus. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available, a larger share of adults have received or plan to get it. But about 20% of adults remain reluctant. African Americans are among the mostly likely to hesitate, as are Republicans, although the share of African Americans who say they are unlikely to get the vaccine has dropped 26 percentage points since January.
“The number who are hesitant to take the vaccine didn’t change between January and March despite more of a public information campaign around the vaccine, its safety, and its availability,” Baldassare said.
On the federal level, approval of President Biden remains high, and about 70% of California likely voters strongly support Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package. Californians are also open to Biden’s immigration reform proposal, with support across party lines for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements. And outside of older Californians, majorities would provide health care to undocumented immigrants, a reform being considered in the state legislature.
Baldassare emphasized a notable shift from 2015—the last time PPIC asked the question about undocumented immigrants and health care. While a partisan divide still exists today, likely voters support health care coverage for undocumented immigrants. “Everybody in California has faced a severe health crisis,” Baldassare said, reflecting on what may be driving the change. “There’s been a different kind of public health action around the pandemic than any of us have ever seen in a lifetime.”