On Tuesday 14 September California votes on whether to replace the Governor, Gavin Newsom. California has a strong ‘recall election’ law, allowing ad hoc challenges to be made against incumbents. Indeed, virtually every Governor for the last few decades has faced serious attempts at a recall election, though none has made it to the number of signatures required to trigger a full ballot since 2003 (the one where Arnold Schwarzenegger won).
Ordinarily Newsom would be totally safe, given he is a Democrat and the state is California. He was elected in 2018 by 62/38% of the vote, and Biden won the state in 2020 by 63.5/34.5% (the remainder were minor candidates).
However, Newsom had made a number of mis-steps during the campaign and generally Democrats were felt by observers to not be taking it seriously. Republicans, by contrast, have been hyper-enthusiastic about the prospect of beating a Democrat governor and perhaps more likely to turnout. As a result, the odds on Newsom holding on had been low, but not the rock bottom odds you’d normally expect.
In the last week or so a string of polls have shown much larger leads for Newsom after Democrat groups appeared to wake up to the danger. This includes a SurveyUSA poll with him leading by 8%, this being the only pollster in the last couple of months to show Newsom behind. It also includes a poll by Trafalgar Group – a very right-leaning pollster who tend to show much better results for Republicans than other companies. They also have Newsom ahead by a pretty comfortable 8%. Other pollsters in the last week have the lead even bigger, 15% and 19%.
It is increasingly clear that the SurveyUSA 11% lead for ‘Remove’ was an outlier, simply a freak result in a poll which doesn’t genuinely reflect public opinion. For Newsom to lose it would require a massive polling error.
William Hill will give you 1/4 on Newsom winning, or 2/7 on him being Governor on New Year’s Day. Even at those odds it is a good bet. 1/4 implies an 80% chance of victory, but given:
1. The polls;
2. The fundamentally Democrat-leaning nature of California; and
3. The direction of the polls;
I’d give Newsom an even higher chance than that. It would take a perfect storm for Republicans to win a statewide election in California, and while there were clouds in the sky a couple of weeks ago it looks highly unlikely now.
Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. He has bets on Gavin Newsom being Governor on NYE, and others on the recall vote being under 45%. You can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts