Poll shows Californians happy with Newsom’s handling of coronavirus, less so with homelessness crisis

Experts say views could change after the impact of the pandemic subsides

A new poll released on Tuesday shows a majority of California voters are happy with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic but were less favorable when it came to the state’s mounting homelessness crisis.

The poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows Newsom, who has been the governor of California since January 2019, has among the highest overall approval rating of any governor in the past half-century at the same point in his first term, the Los Angeles Times reported.

FILE: Gov. Gavin Newsom talks to reporters at his Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif. California will attempt to use its massive market power to increase the availability and lower the cost of prescription drugs. 

FILE: Gov. Gavin Newsom talks to reporters at his Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif. California will attempt to use its massive market power to increase the availability and lower the cost of prescription drugs.  (AP)

His favorable marks lie in his handling of multiple crises since taking office: statewide wildfires, rolling blackouts and the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet many experts suspect that voters may not be as favorably inclined towards him once the impact of the pandemic wears off, but the homelessness crisis and high cost of living lingers.

Tax revenue has largely gone to fighting wildfires and dealing with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, Newsom and state lawmakers will likely be forced to cut down on state safety net programs in the near future.

“He’s in a very solid position but, again, I have seen governors’ job ratings turn south very quickly in the face of bad news coming out of Sacramento,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll.

The poll sampled opinions on the governor’s work in 13 different areas, including health care, race relations and climate change. It found that 64% of likely voters overall approve of Newsom as governor, while 36% do not. Of those, some 88% of Democrats rate Newsom favorably, compared with just 17% of Republicans.

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Despite his high rating, the governor has been on the receiving end of relentless attacks from Republicans and President Trump himself, since taking office. Much of the criticism is focused on the state’s homelessness population spiraling out of control, and what his opponents regard as his draconian handling of the pandemic.

Orrin Heatlie, the lead proponent of a recall campaign against the governor told Fox News that he and many others are extremely skeptical of poll numbers, in no small part due to the 2016 presidential campaign.

"There's a lot of mistrust in the public regarding polling, how it's conducted, and the general results that come out that are contrary to what occurs after the polling," Heatlie said. "A lot of times somebody will say this person's more popular than that person, and it's not shown to be accurate when the voting is counted."

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According to recent data from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has the highest population of homelessness – at 151,278 – out of all 50 states. The city also ranks just behind Hawaii on World Population Review’s Cost of Living Index by State.

Fox News has reached out to Newsom’s office with a request for comment.