Gavin Newsom Survived the GOP-Led Recall—Thanks in Large Part to Women Voters

Two-thirds of California women voters plan to vote “no” on the GOP-led recall, in a significant gender gap.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Update: Late Tuesday night, with two-thirds of California voters opting against the recall, the AP and other news outlets called the election. Gavin Newsom will remain as governor—though his term is nearly up, and he must run again in 2022.

Speaking to members of the press, Newsom thanked voters for rejecting the recall and saying “yes” to ending the pandemic, ensuring diversity and inclusion, and a “women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body and her fate and future”—referencing the ongoing challenges to abortion rights in Texas and other states.

As California voters head to the polls Tuesday to determine whether Governor Gavin Newsom will keep his seat—and who will replace him, if he is voted out—a new poll indicates that Newsom maintains strong support among women voters in the state. 

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, a full two-thirds of women voters (66 percent) are against the recall—a wide margin, compared to just 48 percent of men who are against it—in a significant, and potentially decisive 18 point gender gap. A 50 percent + 1 “NO” vote is required to defeat the recall.

Women are also much more approving of Newsom’s performance as governor—with 62 percent expressing approval, compared to just 43 percent of men. It’s likely this support is grounded in Newsom’s track record when it comes to advocating for women’s rights, a cause he has committed to repeatedly alongside his wife and “first partner,” Jennifer Siebel Newsom. During his tenure as governor, Newsom has approved proposals expanding paid family leave, childcare programs, pay equity and eliminating sales taxes on menstrual products and diapers. 

California saw historic voter turnout in the 2020 elections, with 17 million of the state’s 22 million registered voters turning out to secure a nearly two-thirds win for President Biden after the state implemented a policy of sending a mail-in ballot to every registered voter. Democratic legislators are proposing that California adopt this policy, which it has maintained for the pandemic’s duration, permanently.

While it is unlikely that the state will replicate 2020’s monumental turnout for a recall election, California is currently at its highest rate of registered voters since 1952—nearly 90 percent of eligible Californians are registered to vote, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. 

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Oliver Haug is a social media editor and podcast producer with Ms. magazine. They are also a freelance journalist, focusing on LGBTQ+ issues and sexual politics. Their writing has previously appeared in Bitch Magazine, VICE,, the New York Times' newsletter "The Edit," and elsewhere. You can read more of their work at, and follow them on Twitter @cohaug.