SACRAMENTO (INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) – The California Governor Recall Election is less than two weeks away.

The share of California likely voters who say they would recall Gov. Gavin Newsom still falls short of a majority, while about half of likely voters do not currently have a choice for a replacement, according to a new statewide survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The survey found 39% would vote “yes” to recall Newsom, while 58% would vote “no.”

Additionally, it found 53% of likely voters approve of how Newsom is handling his job as governor.

When asked about replacement candidates on the recall ballot, 25% of likely voters say either that they favor no one or wouldn’t vote while 24% said they are still unsure.

According to the survey, here are where likely voters stand on the recall candidates:

  • Larry Elder (26%)
  • Kevin Faulconer (5%)
  • John Cox (3%)
  • Kevin Kiley (3%)
  • Caitlyn Jenner (1%)

Additional Findings

Recall outcome

An overwhelming majority of likely voters (70%) say the recall election’s outcome is very important to them. Slightly less than half (47%) of all likely voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the recall.

“Solid majorities of California likely voters across party lines say the outcome of the recall election is very important to them, while Republicans and independents stand out as being more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the recall,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Newsom’s pandemic peformance

When asked to name the top issue facing the state, one in five Californians (21%) said it was COVID-19.

Here’s how other issues ranked:

  • Jobs and the economy (12%)
  • Homelessness (11%)
  • Government/problems with electedf officials (7%)
  • Housing costs/availability (7%)

A total 58% of likely voters said they approve of how Newsom is handling the coronavirus outbreak.

Vaccine distribution

An overwhelming majority say the state has done an excellent (28%) or good (50%) job of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, similar to May 2021 (26% excellent, 49% good).

Nearly eight in ten (77%) say they have already gotten the vaccine, and another 7% say they definitely or probably will get it. 

Vaccine requirements

Solid majorities of Californians (61% adults, 62% likely voters) say that proof of vaccination against COVID-19 should be required for entering large outdoor gatherings or certain indoor spaces. 

Direction of California

Slightly less than half (47%) say things in California are going in the right direction.

Similarly, Californians are divided on whether the U.S. will have good or bad financial times in the next 12 months (44% good times, 47% bad times).

“Californians give mixed reviews when asked if things in the state are going in the right or wrong direction, and partisans are deeply divided about whether the nation will be in good or bad economic times during the next 12 months,” Baldassare said.


The Californians and Their Government survey was fielded between Aug. 20 and Aug. 29, 2021. The findings presented are based on responses from 1,706 California residents. The sampling error is ±3.4% for the total unweighted sample ±4.5% for the 1,080 likely voters.

Likely voters were identified based on their responses to questions about voter registration, previous election participation, intentions to vote this year, attention to election news, and current interest in politics.

For more information and to see the full survey, visit PPIC’s website.

About the Recall

Recall organizers gathered more than 2 million signatures to force the election and emphasized what they said were Newsom’s overreaching policies during the pandemic. 

In the recall, voters will receive a ballot with two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? Answers to the second question will only be counted if more than half vote yes on the first.

The election is set for Sept. 14.

Why exactly is there a recall drive against Newsom? The answer is simple and complicated: Californians grew angry over a difficult year. Whipsaw pandemic lockdowns, crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered schools and the disruption of daily life soured just about everybody. 

The complicated part: In a state with nearly 40 million people, there are many grievances, from California’s wallet-sapping taxes to a raging homelessness crisis. As governor, Newsom became a target for that resentment. 

Newsom, who was elected in a 2018 landslide, sees the recall as an attack on California’s progressive policies. 

The recall is backed by state and national Republicans, but organizers argue they have a broad-based coalition, including many independents and Democrats.

Organizers in the anti-recall effort say they are concerned about voter turnout, even though there are almost twice as many Californians who are registered as Democrats compared to registered Republicans.

It’s not uncommon in California for residents to seek recalls but they rarely get on the ballot – and even fewer succeed.

A sitting governor has been ousted just once in the state, when unpopular Democrat Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenneger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.