(TNS) — While it looks increasingly likely that the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom will make the ballot, a statewide poll released Tuesday doesn't bode well for those hoping to actually boot the governor from office.

Just 40 percent of voters said they would cast a ballot to recall Newsom if the election were held today, while nearly 46 percent said they'd vote to support the governor, according to a poll from Newport Beach-based Probolsky Research.

The picture looks even better for Newsom when looking at responses from likely voters. In that group, less than 35 percent support the recall and nearly 53 percent oppose it, with opponents also more likely to be certain about how they'll vote.

"I don't want to call this election today, but you start to understand that this is not an easy road for recall proponents," Adam Probolsky, president of the nonpartisan Probolsky Research, said in a virtual press conference Tuesday. Latinos are by far most likely to support the recall effort, according to Probolsky Research, which polled 900 voters statewide in mid-March. Nearly 45 percent of Latino voters favor a recall vs. 39 percent of white voters, 29 percent of Asian American voters and 19 percent of Black voters who feel the same.

In coming months Newsom's team will have to focus on building support within the Latino community, which has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, noted Scott Lay, publisher of The Nooner newsletter on California politics, who joined Probolsky in Tuesday's press conference.

Men also are significantly more likely than women to support the recall, with 44 percent of males ready to vote yes vs. 37 percent of females.

When it comes to age groups, voters 50 to 64 years old are most likely to support booting the governor, while voters 65 and older, who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus, are least likely to favor the recall.

Voters in the solid red Central Valley are most supportive of the recall, while residents of the deep blue Bay Area and Los Angeles County are least supportive. Democrats have a 22-point advantage in voter registration statewide.

In Southern California, Riverside County residents have so far been the biggest supporters of ousting Newsom, with data from the Secretary of State showing one out of every 10 registered voters there submitted a valid signature to the effort to put the recall question on a ballot.

Orange County is next, with 7.3 percent of registered voters submitting valid signatures on recall petitions. San Bernardino County is at 6.5 percent, while just 3.1 percent of registered voters in Los Angeles County signed on to support the recall.

While Orange County Republican leaders and donors have played a significant role in helping the recall effort gain traction, a poll released earlier this month by Chapman University shows the county is pretty evenly divided about removing Newsom from office before his term expires in January 2023. Some 48 percent of the 703 residents in Chapman's 2021 Orange County Annual Survey said the governor should be recalled while 52 percent said he should stay in office.

A number of local Republican leaders said they signed the recall petition, including Reps. Ken Calvert, R- Corona, and Michelle Steel, R- Seal Beach.

Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R- Laguna Niguel, who was elected in November to represent southern Orange County's red-leaning 73rd District, signed the petition because she felt Newsom's executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic were "outrageous," according to her spokeswoman Jennifer Beal.

"The legislature should have addressed those issues," Beal said. "That's what they were elected to do."

Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Rancho Mirage, who was Republican leader of the Assembly before he switched in 2018 to No Party Preference amid frustration with the GOP under President Donald Trump, did not sign the recall petition.

That's in line with the Probolsky poll, which shows a narrow majority of independents favor letting Newsom keep his seat.

Former Folsom law enforcement officer Orrin Heatlie and Covina political organizer Mike Netter launched the recall effort in February 2020, citing issues with the governor's policies regarding immigration, homelessness, taxes and more. The petition initially languished and seemed destined to fizzle out, as the four previous Newsom recall efforts had done. But that changed on Nov. 6, when Newsom attended a birthday party for a lobbyist friend at Napa Valley's pricey French Laundry restaurant.

The party included guests from multiple households, in violation of Newsom's own health recommendations. That dinner became a national news story and a dominant talking point for recall proponents, who capitalized on voters' fatigue with the governor's mandates aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. By the end of 2020, the recall had become serious business.

Proponents need just under 1.5 million valid signatures to trigger a recall election. They submitted nearly 2.2 million signatures by the March 17 deadline. The Secretary of State had received 1.8 million signatures by March 11, with 1.2 million so far verified by county elections officials.

If that nearly 82 percent approval rating continues, the recall should easily exceed 1.5 million valid signatures.

The recall election will likely take place in late fall, though an exact date is tough to predict.

County registrars have until April 29 to certify all signatures they've received. There are then ranges of time for voters to withdraw their signatures, for state legislators to determine costs of the recall and for the state to certify the election.

California Target Book, which tracks state politics, predicts the recall election will take place Nov. 16, 23, or 30.

Newsom was elected in 2018 by the widest margin in a gubernatorial race since 1950 and has maintained solid approval ratings with a majority of Californians throughout his term. But while an October poll from the Public Policy Institute of California had Newsom's job approval at 60 percent, the Probolsky survey shows 42 percent of voters giving him a favorable rating, while 39 percent view him unfavorably. Among likely recall voters, his approval rating is at 47 percent.

While those numbers have fallen, Lay noted that Gov. Gray Davis' approval rating was in the high 30th percentile before he was recalled in 2003.

"This starts to paint a picture of it not being such a great environment for a recall," Probolsky said.

His firm's poll did not ask voters about potential candidates to replace Newsom.

Probolsky said he doesn't think any major contenders have entered the race. To date, two Republicans — John Cox, who handily lost to Newsom in 2018, and former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer — are confirmed on the potential ticket. Democrats also could field an optional candidate to replace Newsom if he is recalled.

(c)2021 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.