U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on after looking at storm damage and speaking to those affected in Seacliff, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Support among registered voters in California for President Joe Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom is waning, including with Democrats, according to two recently released polls conducted by the University of California—Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.
“While Californians who voted for Biden in 2020 generally view the president’s performance in a more positive light, significant portions do not,” Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley poll
, said in a Nov. 8 report releasing the findings.
According to the late October poll, 52 percent of respondents said they disapproved of President Biden’s performance, including 38 percent who strongly disapproved—a jump from the disapproval rating of 46 percent, with 34 percent strongly opposed, recorded in the previous poll conducted in May.
The percentage of those expressing dissatisfaction was higher than that of those in favor and increased from the May poll for both genders and across all regions of the state, including for every age group except those 65 and older, which recorded a 60 percent approval rating.
Disapproval also surpassed support and grew in every category of race and ethnicity except for black respondents, who recorded a 53 percent approval rating.
Similar sentiments were recorded in a poll
conducted by Berkeley and released on Nov. 7 regarding Mr. Newsom’s performance as governor.
While he received generally positive support since taking office in 2019, the latest numbers show a different trend—49 percent of California voters said they disapprove of his performance compared to a 39 percent disapproval rating when the last poll was conducted in February. In contrast, 44 percent of those surveyed approved of Mr. Newsom’s performance in the newest poll versus 55 percent in February.
President Joe Biden (L) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom take part in an event discussing the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on June 20, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
“California voter opinions about the job Gavin Newsom is doing as governor have taken a negative turn,” Mr. DiCamillo wrote in the poll report. “The fall-off in [the] governor’s approval ratings are broad-based and is particularly noteworthy among political moderates and ‘no party preference’ voters, the state’s two major swing voter blocs.”
Disapproval among moderates jumped from 40 to 54 percent since the February poll, with 54 percent of voters with no party affiliation saying they disapproved compared to 43 percent in February.
Other than the North Coast-Sierra voters—those in the northernmost counties—all areas in the state saw disapproval grow, with 40 percent of voters in the San Francisco Bay Area expressing disapproval compared to 29 percent earlier this year.
Such changes could be due to the governor’s growing high-profile role on the political stage nationwide, pollsters suggested, diverting his attention from issues at home.
“Newsom’s recent actions in taking a much more active role in national Democratic politics appear to be related to his recent decline,” Mr. DiCamillo wrote. “Voters here hold decidedly mixed views about taking on this role at a time when California is facing increasing budgetary challenges and is dealing with a host of other pressing problems.”
The issue starkly divided voters on party lines, with 70 percent of Democrats in favor of Mr. Newsom while 85 percent of Republicans disapproved. Those with no party preference opposed the governor at 47 percent, with 37 percent approving and 16 percent with no opinion.
Others around the country are also expressing opinions about the governor’s recent moves.
A fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, reportedly told supporters at a party fundraiser in Iowa on Nov. 4 that Mr. Newsom is running a “shadow campaign” for president, suggesting the governor doesn’t have the “guts to announce it.”
Mr. Newsom has repeatedly denied that he’s running for president and has steadfastly maintained his support for President Biden’s reelection.
In addition to the broad trend of disapproval, pollsters noted the movement at both ends of the support spectrum—highlighting the shift from strongly approving, declining from 25 to 18 percent, to strongly disapproving, spiking from 29 to 36 percent.
The governor’s trip to China and his choice of Laphonza Butler to replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died on Sept. 29, bucked other trends, with voters supporting his trip by margins of 50 to 39 percent and the latter 37 to 30 percent—with 33 percent having no opinion on the Senate selection.
Both polls were conducted between Oct. 24 and 30 and included more than 6,000 registered California voters with an estimated sampling error, for each, of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Mr. Newsom’s office declined a request for comment.