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Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Approval Plummets As Public Sours On Him

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Approval Plummets As  Public Sours On Him

SCRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approval rating has plummeted as the public sours on his pandemic management, according to a new Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that underscores the viability of a campaign to recall Newsom.

The poll found that just 46 percent of California voters approve of Newsom’s job performance — a sharp decline from the two-thirds who backed him in a September IGS poll.

His declining standing tracked with growing public disaffection over Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus: the share of voters who said he is doing an excellent or good job dropped from roughly half in September to about a third, while those who faulted him for doing a poor job leaped from 28 percent to 43 percent.

  • 31% rate Newsom as doing an excellent or good job handing the pandemic overall, down from 49% in September.
  • 22% gave a positive rating of Newsom and state government in distributing coronavirus vaccines.
  • 47% say they have a great deal or some trust in the way the governor and state government are setting the rules when issuing stay-at-home orders or setting guidelines for business to follow to slow the spread of the virus.
  • 62% viewed the governor’s coronavirus guidelines as inconsistent, while 60% said they were confusing and 53% said they were ineffective.
  • 45% rated Newsom’s handling of jobs and the economy as poor, up from 31% in September.

Organizers in the effort to recall Newsom this week reported collecting more than 1.3 million of the 1.5 million signatures needed to trigger a recall election. Volunteers have until March 17 to turn in the necessary signatures, at which point elections officials must validate them. The latest report from the Secretary of State’s office shows 410,000 signatures have been validated as of Jan 6.

Governor Newsom, is in a precarious place as he confronts the possibility of a recall election fueled by anger over the governor’s pandemic response.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is formally launching his Republican campaign to challenge Newsom on Tuesday, while 2018 GOP candidate John Cox has also said he will run against Newsom should the recall qualify.

Kevin Faulconer

A 49 percent plurality of voters said they saw the recall qualifying as a bad development, versus 36 percent who saw it as a good thing. But if it makes the ballot, Newsom’s support is tepid: just 45 percent of voters said they would vote to retain him, with 36 percent backing removal and about a fifth of voters undecided.

A year ago, it would have been unfathomable that Newsom would face a recall in a state where Democrats have nearly a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans and have won every statewide office since 2010.

California lags behind many other states in the pace of inoculations, and the rollout of a statewide vaccination campaign has been dogged by confusion. Critics accused the governor of acting out of political expediency, rather than his oft-proclaimed commitment to public health data, when Newsom abruptly pulled the state out of a new stay-at-home order last week.

In a sign of pervasive public frustration, the top adjectives respondents used to describe California’s coronavirus guidelines were “inconsistent” and “confusing.” The least popular was “well thought out.”

There are growing frustrations among parents now that most of California’s public schoolchildren have been out of classrooms for nearly a year. Meanwhile, front-line workers in food industries and people with high-risk disabilities in recent weeks have questioned why Newsom hasn’t provided them a clear path to vaccines.

Dan Newman, a political adviser to Newsom, noted that the share of voters backing a recall is roughly equivalent to the vote share Republican former gubernatorial candidate John Cox registered in a blowout 2018 loss to Newsom.

The governor’s fortunes turned in November when infections began to rise dramatically around the same time he revealed he had attended a dinner party at The French Laundry in the Napa Valley with lobbyists and friends. Residents criticized the governor for not adhering to his own pleas for Californians to stay home and avoid mingling with other households.

Even more recently was the fiasco over the highly restrictive December 6th ‘Stay at Home Order’ Newsom imposed on all Californians based on calculations that Newsom suggested California’s wouldn’t understand.

Questions like “how are your numbers used to project 3 to 4 weeks out specifically? He suggested we the public wouldn’t understand. Many felt Newsom was suggesting the public was somehow inept, further hampering his approval ratings.

Many suggested his about face, returning to the Tier System last week was a direct response to his declining approval ratings rather than based on science and numbers.

When asked, Newsom couldn’t explain to media trying to understand how ICU capacities were zero in regions that have had close to a year to prepare? Others were wondering why as more ICU beds were coming online and in many areas inventory increasing dramatically capacity never moved off zero?

Our own research suggested in many regions where ICU’s were reported by Newsom as zero, there were plenty of built in emergency capacity. Hospital rooms and entire hospital floors have been converted in our own local Eisenhower Hospital. Many regional hospitals converted licensed kospital beds to ICU beds.

Many of the Field Hospitals and their infrastructure, along with other resources still remain from the first surge warning.

California has long had rapid ICU capacity to build up options in emergencies of all types. Suggesting that there was no actionable plan, that would be expected and in place by now, for the 5th largest economy in the world after nearly a year begs scrutiny. California is bigger then the entire country of Britian but still reports we had unexpected surges leading to 0% ICU beds available all across California.

Media began to push back asking how is it that the 5th Largest Economy in the world didn’t have a plan? What about emergency plans established long ago for, earthquakes, weather, or other disasters or even a Pandemic?

Many saw 0% ICU capacity for weeks reported in the media. As the 0% was reported repeatedly without clarifying actual ICU capacity was in many cases 50%+, as hospitals for some time had been converting standard rooms to an ICU room and adding additional capacity..

Despite this, many believe 0% capacity means there are zero ICU beds available to them or for family members, sending fear into the general public.

Newsom refused or couldn’t explain why there were 100’s if not 1000’s of ICU beds actually available. In many regions, capacity was growing, new beds, entire floors being added, but left the ICU capacity number unchanged at 0%.

The latest Order, severely restricted the fragile California economy without notice, right after many restaurants and business had spent $1,000s to re-open under the Tier System.

Newsom just as fast as he created the December 6th Order, stopped everything and made a complete reversal, sounding the all clear last week, after Polls showing him falling out of favor rapidly.

Despite a small campaign war chest, the recall drive has evolved from a longshot proposition discussed only in conservative circles to a realistic threat thanks partly to mounting frustration with how Newsom has navigated virus-impeding restrictions and a nascent mass vaccination campaign.

Poll director Mark DiCamillo said in an interview that Newsom’s eroding position reflected slipping public confidence in the governor’s coronavirus strategy.

But while DiCamillo said the trend lines for Newsom “aren’t great,” he noted that Newsom is in a far stronger position than former Gov. Gray Davis was when he faced a recall in 2003, and large blocs of undecided voters offer Newsom a path to safety.

“I would say that a lot depends on the events of the next three or four months. What’s unusual about the measure on his recall is the relatively large proportions of voters still undecided,” DiCamillo said. “I think that the job rating hit is serious, but if things start to improve on the pandemic front I think the recall will be less of a problem for him.”

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