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SF Standard poll: DA Chesa Boudin faces grim odds in recall election

District Attorney Chesa Boudin speaks at a press conference on Nov. 23, 2021. | Camille Cohen

With less than a month until the final day to vote in the June primary, the SF Standard Voter Poll found that over half of registered voters (57%) support recalling District Attorney Boudin, while less than a quarter of respondents (22%) plan to reject the recall.

A substantial portion of surveyed San Franciscans (21%) had yet to decide how they will vote, but negative job performance ratings found that 52% said they “strongly disapproved” of Boudin, while 18% said they “somewhat disapproved” of how he’s performed in his first term.

The Standard commissioned Embold Research, a nonpartisan and nonpolitical arm of Change Research, to conduct the poll, which surveyed 1,048 San Francisco registered voters online between April 30 and May 4. The questionnaire centered on the upcoming election, San Francisco city life and community priorities. The findings are representative of the city’s voter population. Read more about the methodology here.

Additionally, the SF Standard Voter Poll  found that homelessness and safety concerns—issues that have become focal points in the recall campaign—are among voters’ top concerns:

    “As the recall election nears, this poll is yet another glaring proof point that San Franciscans are fed up with DA Boudin’s lack of competence and concern for the safety of our city,” Mary Jung, chair of the committee trying to recall Boudin, wrote in a statement. “Residents and visitors want to feel safe in San Francisco, and victims want to have confidence that justice will be delivered. As long as Boudin is in office, we won’t have either.”

    Boudin’s anti-recall campaign expressed skepticism about the poll’s methodology, which involves recruiting people via social media and texting, and they said they’re seeing “enthusiastic” on-the-ground support against the recall.

    “The reality is Chesa Boudin has been the subject of $4 million of attack spending funded by Republican mega donors and billionaires… as voters hear that trusted organizations and leaders oppose Prop H, we expect our support to grow,” recall spokesperson Julie Edwards said in a statement.

    Two earlier polls on the DA recall, both conducted in February 2022, found different results. One poll—commissioned by the recall committee—found 68% of respondents supported the recall. Another poll from David Binder found that 44% supported the recall and 44% were against, with 12% unsure. The latter poll, however, focused on state Assembly District 17, which does not include the more conservative west side of the city.

    Jonathan Simon, a criminal law professor at Berkeley, said the SF Standard Voter Poll reflects deeply held beliefs that more incarceration and more police will create safer communities.

    “That myth works beautifully for the police, because generally speaking they are the only part of the criminal legal system that can be down there enforcing minor illegalities, perhaps backed by a DA that’s willing to aggressively prosecute,” he said.

    David Alan Sklansky, a law professor at Stanford University who studies criminal justice, said that a disproportionate amount of blame is being attributed to Boudin, as prosecutors work within a system and they can only charge the cases that police bring to them.

    Additionally, many of Boudin’s policies, Sklansky said, such as diverting defendants into programs that help them avoid committing crimes in the future rather than being sentenced to jail or prison, have not come to fruition yet.

    “Those effects take some time to manifest themselves,” he said.