California Gov. Gavin Newsom, one of the Democratic Party's rising stars, has taken a massive hit in constituent approval over the last several months.
What is the background?
California residents have weathered some of the harshest restrictions across the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, even having Newsom once rescind many of the restrictions only to enact a second lockdown during a spike in COVID-19 late last fall.
Tens of thousands of California businesses have permanently shut their doors. In fact, the exact number of closed businesses is difficult to ascertain, but as of September, the number stood at more than 19,000 — and that was before the second lockdown.
All the while, Newsom did not even follow his own guidance on COVID.
What does the new data show?
Polling data released Tuesday by the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies revealed Newsom's approval rating has sunk to just 46%. The rating is not particularly bad for a first-term governor who is just two years into his tenure. In fact, the mark is around average.
However, the mark is significant because Newsom's approval rating in September was 64%, according to the same polling institute.
That means Newsom's approval has tanked 18 percentage points within a four-month span, turning him from one of the country's most popular governors into one of the most unpopular.
Even more shocking is that just four months ago, the difference between Californians who approved and disapproved of Newsom's job performance was heavily in Newsom's favor, 64% to 36%. Now, more Californians disapprove of Newsom than approve of him, 48% to 46%.
Not surprisingly, a majority of respondents told the UC Berkeley polling institute that they disapprove of Newsom's handling of the COVID pandemic, vaccine rollout, handling of the state economy, and balancing public health interests and the state economy.
"People are reevaluating how well Newsom is doing handling the pandemic. Once your job performance rating starts to decline, it's more difficult to put it back in the right direction. You kind of accumulate negatives over time, " Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll, said, the Los Angeles Times reported.
What about the recall effort?
What the poll revealed could not come at a worse time for Newsom, who could soon face a recall.
Rescue California, the organization campaigning to recall Newsom, has garnered about 1.3 million valid signatures of the 1.5 million needed to prompt a recall election this year, Fox News reported.
While it remains to be seen whether Rescue California can reach that threshold by mid-March deadline, the UC Berkley poll found that Newsom is certainly vulnerable to a recall effort.
In fact, 36% of the 10,000 respondents said they would vote against Newsom in a recall election, while 45% said they would vote for Newsom. Another 19% said they are undecided.