According to CBS News early exit poll data, the coronavirus is the top issue on voters' minds in this election, roughly 30% of voters said it is the most important issue facing California, followed by about a quarter who pick homelessness. These issues come out ahead of the economy, wildfires and crime.
There are differences between those voting “no” on the recall and those voting “yes” on what they see as the biggest issue facing California.
For those voting “no” on the recall (keeping Gavin Newsom as governor), the coronavirus is the issue they see as the most important facing their state. For these voters, this issue ranks far ahead of any other issues — by roughly 20 points. More than twice as many “no” voters than “yes” voters pick it as their top issue.
For those voting “yes” on the recall (removing Newsom as governor), the economy and homelessness are the most important for them, ahead of the coronavirus. Almost three times as many “yes” voters than “no” voters pick the economy as the most important issue facing California. Crime ranks higher as an issue for the “yes' voters than the “no” voters.
Those voting “no” on the recall are more likely than those voting “yes” to see climate change as a “very serious” problem in California.
COVID-19: Newsom's policies
Proponents of the effort to recall Newsom have been critical of Newsom's COVID policies, mostly arguing that they are too strict.
About a third of voters who cast ballots in this election agree with that assessment, saying Newsom's COVID policies have been too strict, but more voters– nearly half of voters – say his policies have been about right.
COVID-19: Masks and vaccines
There has been heated debate about children wearing masks in schools. More than two-thirds of voters support California's requirement that students wear masks in schools. And amid the debate over COVID vaccine mandates, a majority of voters in this election (about 6 in 10) view getting the vaccine as a public responsibility rather than a personal choice.
Most of those voting “no” on the recall support California's mask mandate for kids in school and view getting the COVID vaccine as a public responsibility. Most “yes' on the recall voters oppose the mask mandate for students and see getting the COVID vaccine as personal choice rather than a public responsibility.
Voters' opinions on the condition of California's economy are mixed — half think it's in good shape, but nearly as many say it's bad.
But a majority of voters do feel that the cost of living in the area where they live is unmanageable.
Those voting “yes” on the recall are far more negative about both the state economy and the cost of living. Voters who want Newsom recalled — who are three times as likely to say the economy is California's top issue — overwhelmingly say the state economy is either not so good or poor, and three in four say the cost of living in their area is unmanageable. Most voting “no” on recall have a far more positive assessment.
Earlier this August, CBS News pre-election polling showed Republicans both more likely and more motivated to vote in this recall election.
But so far tonight, while most supporting the recall are optimistic about the prospect of removing Gavin Newsom from office, just 37% of “yes” voters say they are “excited” by the prospect. On the other side of the equation, there seems to be more urgency: 44% of voters opposing the recall attempt say they are “scared” by the possibility of Gavin Newsom being removed from office.
President Biden campaigned for Newsom and the President remains a popular figure in California. More than half — about 56% — of California voters approve of the job he is doing as president.
— Jennifer De Pinto and Fred Backus
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