The vast majority of LGBTQ people voted to retain California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in this week’s recall election, according to early exist polling.
NBC News reports that only 17% of LGBTQ recall voters in California voted to recall Newsom, while 83% voted to keep him in office. Only 59% of non-LGBTQ recall voters voted to keep Newsom in office.
While early exit polls don’t have the best track record when it comes to accuracy, the overwhelming opposition to recalling the governor that LGBTQ Californians showed – even when compared to the general population that also voted “no” – is hard to ignore.
Newsom has a long history of supporting LGBTQ people, famously defying state law when he was the mayor of San Francisco by issuing marriage licenses to 4000 same-sex couples in 2004.
77% of LGBTQ people said in the exit poll that they would be “concerned or scared” if Newsom were removed from office, twenty points more than recall voters in general. The candidate who got the most votes to replace Newsom – conservative radio host Larry Elder – has a history of transphobic and misogynist statements.
COVID-19 ended up being the central issue in the recall election, with challengers like Elder and Caitlyn Jenner opposing basic public health measures like mask and vaccine mandates.
And this might be another reason LGBTQ voters supported Newsom in the recall. 82% of LGBTQ voters – compared to 65% of all voters – said that getting vaccinated is a public health responsibility, and 86% of LGBTQ voters support Newsom’s mask mandate in schools.
Last, LGBTQ recall voters tended to be younger than the population in general, with 75% of LGBTQ recall voters under the age of 44. Voters of all identities under the age of 44 were more likely to oppose removing Newsom than those who are 45-years-old and older.
Republicans have been trying to take out the state’s Democratic governor since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., with the February 2020 petition for the recall election citing homelessness and taxes as the reasons to remove him from office. But the pandemic – and subsequent business closures – provided a boost to the effort and enough signatures were collected.