SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- New polling numbers show that the recall race has gone from a statistical tie, to a 22 point advantage in Governor Gavin Newsom's favor.
The dramatic shift occurred in just a month and a half, so what might explain the changing numbers in recall polling? One very old adage in politics is to "never trust the summer polls." While that might be an overstatement, historically there are reasons to question what pollsters hear from voters in late July.
"They're often being polled before a large segment of the electorate is really paying attention to an election," said SFSU Political Science Professor Jason McDaniel. "Especially in an off year, and a recall election like we're seeing here this time."
Just over a month ago polling suggested Newsom was in trouble, now the very same poll might have Californians thinking it's the Governor's race to lose. Political experts say this is not a broad change in consensus, but evidence that the enthusiasm gap we heard so much about was wide enough to skew the voter samples.
"Back in July, I would say Democrats were sleepwalking and Republicans were very aroused about wanting to get Newsom recalled," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll showing Newsom with a 22% lead ahead of the recall vote. "So you had this big interest gap between Republicans and Democrats, and most Republicans got into the likely voter sample."
"Also, Gavin Newsom's approval ratings are pretty strong right now," added Professor McDaniel.
"They are above 50%. Put those two things together and it seems like you have an electorate that does not want to recall Gavin Newsom," he continued.
Turnout is expected to land somewhere around 50%. Actual election day voting is expected to skew towards "yes" on the recall, perhaps heavily. One unanswered question is how many outstanding mail-in ballots will be turned in during the closing days.
"I didn't receive a ballot, but I was supposed to," voter Che Germaine said in Martinez Friday. "So, I called and they sent it over. So now I'm finally dropping it off."
As the month-long special election winds down and the polls become irrelevant, time is running short for mail-in ballots to be dropped off.
"Conditions probably won't change, but turnout expectations could change," McDaniel said. "Pollsters could be wrong on what they're expecting, and there could be more Republican enthusiasm waiting in that election day vote than they are expecting right now."
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