Resident displays a No on the Recall sign. Photo by Chris Stone
Resident displays a No on the Recall sign. Photo by Chris Stone

A survey conducted by a UC San Diego research center found wide-ranging support among every demographic and party group in California for making “major changes” to the state’s recall process, it was announced Thursday.

However, it also found divergence along party lines for which reforms particular voters would get behind.

The survey, by the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research, also reveals that those who participated in California’s 2021 election were not representative of the state.

Recall voters tended to be older, richer and whiter than both the state’s registered voter population as a whole and the electorate that participated in the 2020 presidential election.

The survey was conducted during the week of the Sept. 14 recall election, with 2,812 respondents reflective of California’s registered voter population.

UCSD political scientist Thad Kousser, co-director of the Yankelovich Center, led the effort, with political science doctoral student Cassidy Reller.

“Our findings suggest that as we discuss reforms to California’s recall process, we shouldn’t be focused on simply making recalls harder to initiate, we should be focused on making them more representative,” Kousser said. “Our findings also suggest that if state leaders want to craft a suite of proposals that would have broad appeal to the entirety of our state’s population, they may want to bring voters of every party affiliation, as well as independent voters, into the discussion.”

A unique feature of the survey, Kousser said, is that the center conducted the polling both in the two days prior to the election and in the two days following it.

This allowed the researchers to assess whether support for reform was contingent on the outcome – Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, survived the recall, while Republican Larry Elder garnered the most votes as a replacement candidate.

Researchers found that in fact, it was outcome-contingent, as satisfaction with the process rose among Democrats after the election and fell among Republicans.

The only reform supported by a majority of all respondents was to limit the grounds for recall elections to “concerns about corruption or criminal acts.” Overall, two-thirds of respondents supported the idea. Only 26% opposed it.

There was some variance in support over this proposal – 76% of Democrats favored it, compared to 61% of independents and 52% of Republicans – but it still had majority support among the select groups.

Other survey findings:

  • Voters back creating a reform commission, but are also open to legislative proposals for reform.
  • There is a deep partisan divide over concerns about election fraud that grew even wider after the election.

– City News Service