Cautiously Hopeful? Boudin Campaign Polls Shows DA Is Down, but Not Out in Recall

DA Boudin speaking in Sacramento a few weeks ago with Senators Nancy Skinner and Scott Wiener

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – If the polls released by Chesa Boudin’s campaign on Monday are accurate, the DA is clearly facing an uphill battle but he does have a fighting chance.  In a poll done by Public Policy Polling May 13-14 of 697 likely primary voters, 48 percent would favor a recall, 38 percent oppose it, and 14 percent are not sure.

That’s not good news for the DA, but it’s better than a poll released last week by the SF Standard that showed the recall passing by more than 30 percentage points.

The Boudin campaign was critical of that survey, which was not a random poll.

The reaction from Chesa Boudin was, “The more people start paying attention to the details the more they side with us.”

He added, “Clearly, this is a much closer race than has been reported and will come down to turnout and how the late undecided voters break.”

One factor might be that after months of negative mainstream news coverage, the coverage lately has analyzed crime patterns and shown a different picture from the one portrayed a year or so ago.

In early May, the San Francisco Chronicle argued that recalling Chesa Boudin was not the answer.

They noted that the voters in 2019 voted for Boudin over more traditional approaches by Suzy Loftus and Nancy Tung.

“Voters weren’t naive in making this selection,” they wrote. “Concerns over the excesses and racial injustices of California’s traditional crime and punishment justice system were well-founded — and available data suggested Boudin’s approach could have merit.”

The paper argued that Boudin hasn’t had a chance to implement his full vision.

They added, “Crime stats that mirror those of when Boudin took office do not justify a recall. Violent crime is low and has stayed low even as it has surged across the country at rates not seen since the 1960s. Property crime rates were unacceptable before Boudin arrived and they are unacceptable now. San Franciscans have a right to be outraged. But prematurely sacking the district attorney won’t be a magic fix.”

The Examiner added its endorsement a week later, noting that while Proposition H (the recall measure) will punish Boudin, “it won’t solve San Francisco’s real problems.

“Given this reliance on half-truths and disinformation, it’s unlikely the recall supporters’ case against Boudin would stand up in a court of law. The court of public opinion, however, is another matter. Polls suggest San Francisco voters are inclined to boot Boudin from office on June 7,” the paper wrote this past weekend.

They add, “Contrary to popular belief, Boudin’s record so far largely resembles those of previous DAs. In addition, San Francisco has experienced far smaller crime spikes than Sacramento, which has a supposedly ‘tough on crime’ DA. Boudin does not take credit for these relatively positive statistics, but he gets blamed for nearly every individual act of crime even though his own critics admit that’s illogical.”

A key question is whether previous polls are correct that this is a blow out, or whether Boudin’s campaign is right that this is a close race.

Boudin’s team, for their part, thinks this is a close race.

“The recall has spent a year and more than $5 million negatively and falsely attacking Chesa Boudin,” spokesperson Julie Edwards told the Vanguard.  “Yet more than 50% of voters have not signed onto their arguments. And there’s a clear decline on ‘yes’ support from prior surveys. And that’s if you take those surveys at face value—I don’t think the recall would be spending a half million a week on attack ads if they believed their polling was accurate.”

She added, “As more voters learn that trusted organizations are endorsing ‘no’ we expect our support to grow.”

While they are running out of time, if the poll is correct, the support for the recall is now under 50 percent with a still sizable undecided component.

Edwards pointed out, “Traditionally undecided voters break to the ‘no’ position on ballot measures.”

To baseline the poll, about 93 percent of those responding said they were certain to vote in the primary and another seven percent said they were probably going to vote.  Sixty-eight percent of those polled approve of President Biden’s job performance, while they voted for Biden by an 81 to 9 margin in 2020.

The poll also asked about several of DA Boudin’s policies, which had varying levels of support.

By wide margins voters supported the creation of the Worker’s Protection Unit and the Independent Innocence Commission.  The margin was narrower, 46-30 with 24 undecided, on the DA’s decision not to prosecute children as adults and even closer, 39 to 30 with 31 percent undecided, on ending the use of cash bail.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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