Newsletter: The best poll (so far) for Gov. Gavin Newsom of his first year in office


Almost nine months after he took office and in the midst of several high-profile fights against President Trump, there’s good news for Gov. Gavin Newsom in a new statewide poll: A broad swath of Californians seem to like what he’s doing.

That’s the finding of the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times. Among registered voters, 60% said they support how the Democratic governor is doing his job.



The new findings are 3 percentage points higher than the Berkeley poll conducted in June, an upward trend that shows no effect on Newsom’s sterling reputation with voters from recent Sacramento controversies like his veto of a closely watched anti-Trump environmental law and the confusion surrounding his views on vaccine exemptions.

The poll, conducted Sept. 13 to 18 of 4,527 registered voters, included a simple question about the governor’s support. It found most of the governor’s support is in the “approve somewhat” category, though that’s hardly surprising for any politician in these skeptical times.

I asked Mark DiCamillo for some of the detailed information behind that number to gauge the feelings of some of the subgroups of voters. What it showed is that while Newsom may be a liberal Democrat and former San Francisco mayor, he has strong support in Los Angeles County (66%) and among unaffiliated voters (57%) as well as those who describe themselves as political moderates (56%). Voters away from the coast are almost evenly split in how they feel about him, while 82% of Republicans don’t like what he’s doing.

But the most interesting takeaway may be in comparison to the June survey, as Newsom, either because of what he’s doing or what he represents, is in good shape with a number of key constituencies. Among voters 29 and younger, the governor saw an almost 11 percentage point rise in job approval, now at 69%. The poll found notable upticks, too, among Latino and African American voters. Almost 65% of women surveyed approve of how he’s doing the job — 5 percentage points higher than in June — and similar boosts were seen among union-affiliated voters (now almost 60%) and immigrants (at almost 71%).

So where does Newsom still struggle to make a good impression? Other than Republicans and self-described conservatives, there’s less enthusiasm among those who are near the state’s median income and among those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. Slightly more than half of those surveyed in both groups approve of how he’s doing the job, while more than two-thirds of the state’s poorest voters — and almost as many of its wealthiest voters — like what they see.

One final note to the men and women seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president: More than 87% of voters who say they’re likely to cast ballots in the California primary next March like how Newsom’s doing the job. Sure, he may have already endorsed someone in the race, but getting in sync with the governor might not be a bad idea.


Not that everything is coming up roses in California according to the poll. A little more than half of the voters surveyed said they have considered leaving the state, with the cost of housing cited as a top reason.

Young voters were especially worried about the cost of housing. But the top group of Californians who were eyeing those suitcases and moving boxes: Republicans and self-described conservatives.

“If the people who are giving serious consideration for leaving are indeed going to follow through, the state will continue to get bluer and bluer,” said DiCamillo, the poll’s director. “That has huge political implications.”


On Monday, new numbers from the poll conducted for The Times were released showing overwhelming support among voters for the law Newsom signed earlier this month to impose new state oversight of vaccine exemptions for schoolchildren.

While 83% of those surveyed expressed some amount of support for the new law, 61% favor it strongly. And 72% said they were somewhat or extremely concerned about a more widespread outbreak of measles across California.


-- Trump’s allies and his Democratic antagonists took to the nation’s talk shows Sunday to present stridently opposing views of the impeachment inquiry that hit Washington last week like a tornado, sweeping nearly all other priorities aside.

-- As Trump’s interactions with the president of Ukraine have brought the debate into the national security arena, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sees the upcoming fight as one she can wage on familiar turf thanks to her 25 years of experience on the House Intelligence Committee.

-- As House Democrats launch their impeachment inquiry, no state will play a more pivotal role in the process than California.

-- Democratic presidential candidates are tossing out their original 2020 campaign playbook, one that ruled out much talk of removing the president from office and are now leaning into it. The new, uncertain landscape is creating potential opportunities for some candidates, but also room for peril.

-- In Orange County, long a GOP bastion and the symbolic home to the conservative movement, freshman Democrats who publicly supported an impeachment inquiry say they have faced little in the way of blowback.


-- During a visit to New York City for a gathering of world leaders last week, Newsom said California’s next battle over climate change will be to ensure the state meets its ambitious targets.

-- Even as supporters of newly signed Assembly Bill 5 celebrate what they call the nation’s strongest attack on inequality in the workplace, it’s hard to find any California industry that is not hoping for a future carve-out.

-- Californians would have more control over the collection of their health and financial data and there would be stiff penalties for companies that wrongly share and sell data about children under a November 2020 statewide ballot measure submitted last week.

-- San Joaquin County Dist. Atty. Tori Verber Salazar said that she is opening an investigation into e-cigarette company Juul Labs to look into what she said was “knowingly false and misleading” advertising that hooked young people on nicotine.

-- The California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating allegations that Ernest Camacho, a board member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, has a conflict of interest — the second such investigation the watchdog agency has launched involving the bullet train.

-- Former state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer is among a number of former government leaders, bureaucrats and regulators who have joined or established financial ties with the marijuana industry.


Essential Politics is written by Sacramento bureau chief John Myers on Mondays and Washington bureau chief David Lauter on Fridays.

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