In the midst of crisis, Californians recall a Democratic governor and elect a moderate Republican with little political experience but high name recognition. It worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003, but Caitlyn Jenner doesn’t seem likely to repeat the trick. The reality TV star and Olympic gold medalist is only favored by between 1% and 2% of voters, according to multiple polls ahead of the September 14th election.
Part of that is the simple fact that most Californians are Democrats, and they seem to be backing current governor Gavin Newsom. Via the FiveThirtyEight poll tracker, something like 52% of Californians have told pollsters they’ll vote to keep Newsom, compared to about 44% who would like him removed. A normal polling error would make the election extremely competitive, but even so, you’d rather be Newsom than any of the other candidates. And if the goal is to be the governor of California, you’d rather be several other candidates before landing on Jenner.
According to a just published Public Policy Institute of California poll, she’s favored by 1% of voters. A SurveyUSA poll released on August 31st has her at 2%, and a Change Research poll from August 26th also has her at 1%.
Her biggest issue is that she’s running as a moderate. “I come from a little bit more of a different approach, as a moderate,” she has said. “When it comes to social issues, I’m more like a Democrat or independent.”
And that’s the problem: the modern Republican party is not a party for moderates. The frontrunner to replace Newsom is conservative radio host Larry Elder, who has previously said that, “Women know less than men about political issues, “Blacks exaggerate the significance of racism,” and “Medicare should be abolished.” He has long maintained that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and today, September 3rd, he suggested that the California recall election will also be stolen, and that he plans to sue when it happens.
Even Jenner isn’t a fan of Elder. “A lot of things are coming out about him, which, if correct, he’s got a lot of issues,” she said.
Californians have until September 14th to vote, though the results of the recall election may not be known for weeks as mail-in votes are counted.