Supporters of the effort to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin released a poll Wednesday suggesting the progressive prosecutor is in danger of being removed from office in June, with likely voters expressing concerns about crime getting worse in the city.
The survey—paid for by the Safer SF Without Boudin campaign, which has been largely funded by conservative mega-donor William Oberndorf as well as other wealthy contributors—found that 68% of respondents would support recalling or removing Boudin if the election were held at the time the poll was taken in mid-February. A majority of respondents also expressed an unfavorable opinion of Boudin and believed he was doing a poor job.
The Oakland-based research firm EMC Research conducted the survey with a sample size of 800 likely voters in San Francisco and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%. The survey was offered in both English and Chinese.
The survey also asked respondents about different types of crime, finding that most likely voters were “very concerned” about home and auto burglaries, public drug use and violent crime. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they believed crime was getting worse compared to a year ago.
Reports of violent crime rose by only 1% overall in San Francisco last year compared to 2020, mostly due to a 9% increase in aggravated assaults, according to police. On the other hand, property crime jumped 13% with a 39% spike in car break-ins, which initially fell during the pandemic.
Mary Jung, chair of the Safer SF Without Boudin campaign, said the poll shows “Chesa Boudin is failing to keep San Francisco safe.”
But Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for the anti-recall campaign supporting Boudin, said the poll is not consistent with what the DA’s supporters are seeing on the ground.
“We have launched our field campaign and we have been getting tremendously positive feedback from San Franciscans who oppose this recall and support Chesa Boudin,” Edwards said.
Edwards cited polls from last summer that showed Gov. Gavin Newsom in danger of being recalled and replaced by conservative talk show host Larry Elder, only for the governor and former San Francisco mayor to go on to overwhelmingly defeat the recall.
“There is reason to believe that this far out from an election, that surveys can be a curiosity rather than an indication of actual results,” Edwards said.
Boudin has been a lightning rod for all problems related to crime in San Francisco ever since the former public defender took office at the beginning of 2020. Boudin and his opponents have traded accusations over whether his prosecutors fail to hold suspects accountable for crime.
The recall campaign has intensified as a public spat between Boudin and Police Chief Bill Scott erupted last month when the DA prepared to put an officer on trial for excessive force. The officer, Terrance Stangel, was later acquitted of assault and battery charges.
Scott seized upon allegations that the DA’s office withheld evidence from police while investigating the officer to announce his intent to withdraw from an agreement that put prosecutors in charge of leading the criminal investigations into police shootings and other serious incidents in the city. The chief has since pulled back on this pledge and agreed to negotiate with the district attorney.
Soon after the chief’s announcement, Boudin revealed that San Francisco police used DNA evidence collected from a rape victim to identify and arrest her in an unrelated crime, exposing a broader DNA retention practice in the department that Boudin called unethical and unlawful. Scott said he and the department would take immediate steps to end the practice. Meanwhile, the victim is preparing to sue.
Michael Barba can be reached at [email protected]
Han Li can be reached at [email protected]