Sep 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Poll shows big majority of Latinos oppose Newsom recall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom makes a statement against his recall while meeting with Latino leaders at Hecho en Mexico restaurant in East Los Angeles.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets with Latino leaders at Hecho en Mexico restaurant in East Los Angeles. Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California voters' growing opposition to recalling Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is driven heavily by Latinos, according to new polling in the closing days of the election.

The big picture: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week found 66% of likely Latino voters saying they won't support the recall and just 27% saying they would — a shift from previous polls that suggested a tight race.

Why it matters: If Latino voters were to abandon Newsom it would serve as a major warning for Democrats trying to flip Texas, hang on in the 2022 midterm elections and reset after Donald Trump's gains among some Latino voters last November. On the other hand, if Latino voters help save Newsom, it may empower advocacy groups who can turn out the vote to make more demands.

By the numbers: The survey found about 58% of all likely voters, and 52% of white voters, oppose the recall.

  • Only 39% of all likely voters surveyed supported removing Newsom from office, and 53% of Californians approve of the way Newsom is handling his job overall. The poll surveyed 1,706 California adult residents from Aug. 20–29, 2021, and had a sampling error is ±3.4%.
  • Newsom's stronger support from Latino respondents in the PPIC poll is noteworthy. An Emerson College/Nexstar poll last month found that 54% of Latinos actually favored recalling Newsom, and Mexican American political activists feared Newsom was failing to sufficiently engage Latino voters.

Don't forget: Around 66% of Latinos voted for Newsom when he was elected governor three years ago, highlighting the reliability of California Hispanics as Democratic voters.

  • Newsom appointed Alex Padilla to replace outgoing Sen. Kamala Harris for the remaining of her term, making Padilla the first Mexican American U.S. senator in California history.

Yes, but: The pandemic in California has disproportionately hit Latinos, many of whom work in essential service jobs.

What they're saying: "Gavin Newsom has done so much for the Latino community ... in terms of education and getting more money for English learners to giving stimulus money to undocumented," civil rights leader Dolores Huerta told Axios.

But, but, but: Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha said Newsom's team can take no Latinos votes for granted. "Latino focus groups after focus groups are saying, Democrat or Republican, I want to know what these mofos are going to do right now to make my life better, or I ain't got time to hear none [of] it," Rocha told Axios.

Be smart: Mike Madrid, a California Republican strategist and Latino voting trends expert, said early polls on Latino voters tend to be off because surveys don't include enough Latino data.

  • "The cold, hard math probably tells you it's not as close as [some] polling would indicate," Madrid said.

Flashback: Exit polling found that about 46% of California Latinos voted for the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis, who was replaced by Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Around three in 10 Latino voters had thrown their support behind Schwarzenegger.

Go deeper