The governors of the nation’s two largest blue states, California and New York, have recently faced accountability moments, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned his office in August, and California Governor Gavin Newsom survived a recall effort last week.
In a survey of residents of the two states during this period of political upheaval, the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC compared attitudes of California and New York voters toward the power to recall public officials, their governors’ performances, and problems facing the states.
Unlike other recent polls that have focused exclusively on the views of California voters regarding Governor Newsom and the recall process leading up to the California recall election, the CMC-Rose Institute Poll provides a comparison of public opinion in these two, large, Democratic states—one of which allows for the recall of elected officials, while the other does not.
The poll, designed by the Rose Institute and conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,000 respondents in California and 1,675 in New York between August 30, 2021 and September 10, 2021.
CMC Profs. Andrew Sinclair and Ken Miller oversaw and developed the poll comparing political attitudes in California and New York states. Sinclair and Miller discussed the survey this week on KPCC’s “Air Talk” with Larry Mantle.
Among other findings, the poll shows that:
- A large majority of Californians (70.6%), including nearly all Republicans (92.5%) and independents (84.3%), as well as most Democrats (56.2%), believe the people should retain the power to recall governors.
- Similarly, nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers (65.2%), including a narrow majority of Democrats (52.2%) would like to gain the power to recall governors in their state.
- In California, support for the recall power was greater among the more populist wings of the two parties. The survey categorizes Democratic respondents as either “Progressive” or “Center-Left” and Republicans as either “Old GOP” or “Trump GOP.” While Republicans overall were more likely than Democrats to express support for the recall process, Trump GOP respondents registered the strongest support (95.8% support), and Progressive Democrats expressed greater support (59.7%) than center-left Democrats (49.4%).
- When it came to applying the recall power against Gavin Newsom, Californians were starkly divided along partisan lines.
Fully nine in ten Californians who identify as or lean Republican (90.4%) supported the recall of Governor Newsom, while a nearly identical percentage of Californians who identify as or lean Democratic (89.7%) opposed the recall. (Independents in the survey fell in the middle, supporting the recall by 58.8 percent.)
Partisanship overrode all other factors in the recall vote. Although respondents expressed concerns about a range of problems facing the state, including Covid-19, crime, homelessness, wildfires, and other issues, these concerns ultimately did not cause voters to deviate from recent partisan voting patterns. Opposition to the recall (approximately 60% in the poll) closely tracked support for Newsom in the 2018 election (61.9%) and for President Biden in 2020 (63.5%).
- Put another way, respondents in the survey generally assigned blame for their state’s problems to the opposite party—Democrats blamed Republicans and Republicans blamed Democrats.
For example, with respect to the response to Covid-19 In California, only 11% of Democrats disapproved of how Governor Newsom had handled the Covid-19 pandemic. In New York, only 16% of Democrats disapproved of Governor Cuomo’s pandemic response.
Republicans, on the other hand, reversed these numbers: 83% of Republican identifiers disapproved of Newsom’s response to the pandemic. Former Governor Cuomo in New York fared only slightly better, with 76% of respondents who identify with the GOP registering their disapproval of his pandemic response.