(CNN)Two seemingly contradictory things are both true about this moment in California politics:
1. There is likely to be a recall election this fall aimed at pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom out of office.2. Newsom is likely to survive that recall election.How, you ask? After all, if people are mad enough to get a recall measure on the ballot, aren’t they going to follow through and, you know, actually recall Newsom?Well, no. Or, more accurately given the unpredictability of any campaign including a recall campaign, probably not. Read MoreStart here: Last month, recall proponents turned in more than 2 million signatures in order to qualify it for the ballot. While those signatures have not been officially verified yet, the expectation among everyone in the state — including Newsom — is that the recall will go ahead.In mid-March, Newsom launched a campaign to defeat attempts to recall him, which he said was led by “anti-vaxxers, Q-Anon conspiracy theorists and anti-immigrant Trump supporters.”The likelihood of the recall effort succeeding (to get on the ballot) is, however, not necessarily predictive of the chances that California voters will kick Newsom out.
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In fact, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll, Newsom starts this recall fight in very solid position. Newsom’s approval rating sits at 53% — a number that is a) good and b) consistent with his 52% approval in PPIC polls since February 2020.As it relates to the recall specifically, 56% of likely California voters said they would vote “no” while 40% said they would vote to recall Newsom. That’s good news for the incumbent — as is the fact that just 5% of likely voters said they were unsure whether they wanted to recall him or not.Those numbers aren’t even in the same universe as Gov. Gray Davis’ (D) were when he was recalled in 2003, as PPIC’s Mark Baldassare notes. Writes Baldassare:”Moreover, seven in ten California likely voters disapproved of Gray Davis during the year of the recall (72% February 2003; 75% June 2003; 72% July 2003; 72% August 2003; 71% September 2003). And leading up to the recall election, at least half of California likely voters said they would vote to remove Davis as governor (51% June 2003, 50% July 2003; 58% August 2003, 53% September 2003).”Now. Recall campaigns are rare. Which means that we just don’t have all that much data on how this one will play out. That’s why Newsom is taking no chances by aggressively campaigning against the recall before it even officially makes the fall ballot.The Point: Obviously Newsom would have rather avoided this recall election entirely — as it comes just a year before he is up for a second term in 2022. Nonetheless, he’s in a pretty solid position to beat back the attempt to remove him.