After polls overestimated Democratic candidates in 2016 and 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom’s lead in California’s recall elections is as illusory as Hillary Clinton’s lead in Wisconsin and Joe Biden’s lead in Florida. It makes sense to wonder if it’s right.
It’s not impossible. However, Newsom’s lead is now large enough to reduce typical voting errors and withstand voting mistakes across almost every state in recent memory.
Opposition to recalling Mr. Newsom is 16 points, leading 57.3 to 41.5 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. In a 2020 poll, Democrats averaged about 5 percentage points overestimated.
In either the 2016 or 2020 presidential election, no state failed its final vote by 16 percentage points. Perhaps the worst recent voting mistake-a comfortable 9-point win after Senator Susan Collins dragged 3 points in the vote-is still at the stadium, but still less than 5 points to erase Mr. Newsom’s lead.
Many of the most embarrassing and eye-catching mistakes pollsters, such as the 7-point voting error in Wisconsin in 2016 and 2020, could leave Newsom a double-digit win.
It is difficult to find a precedent for such a large polling error. According to CNN writer Harry Enten, in the last two decades, the average vote for the governor’s election has deviated by at least four percentage points in only four cases.
Opponents of Mr. Newsom can expect that the peculiarities of the call election may make it more difficult for pollsters than in a typical general election. Voting errors are often high in special and primary elections.
However, the vote was fairly accurate in the final recall of the Governor of California, who died in 2012 in a notable effort to recall former Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. The high turnout of early turnout in California so far, anomalous turnout causes particularly large polling errors.
And California is not a state where polls have been badly overlooked in the recent election cycle. The largest polling errors occur in Wisconsin, Maine, and other states with a large number of white working class voters. It’s not California. According to census data, only 22% of California voters in 2020 will be white without a four-year college degree, the second lowest of any state.
Perhaps as a result, California state-wide polls were generally fairly accurate.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Joe Biden led California’s final poll by 29.2 points.
He won with 29.2 points.