A 29-year-old YouTube millionaire is the leading Democratic candidate going into California's governor recall

Kevin Paffrath
Kevin Paffrath
  • Kevin Paffrath is the leading Democratic candidate ahead of the Gavin Newsom recall election.

  • The 29-year-old trails behind conservative talk show host Larry Elder in most polls.

  • The vote will take place on September 14. In August, 51% of voters surveyed were against the recall.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

YouTube influencer Kevin Paffrath could become California's youngest governor to date.

Paffrath, a 29-year-old who has made millions of dollars on his "Meet Kevin" YouTube channel, appears to be the Democratic party's leading candidate if Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled in the election next week.

16 surveys place Paffrath as the leading Democratic candidate among 46 candidates, including eight other candidates seeking to represent the Democratic party. In the majority of the surveys, the 29-year-old trails behind conservative talk show host Larry Elder. A poll of over 1,000 people planning to vote in the recall election put Elder at 32%, with Paffrath trailing at 13%, but several other polls have put the YouTuber at the front of the race.

In July, another poll of over 1,000 people from SurveyUSA gave Paffrath 27% of the vote, ahead of other candidates like Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner and Elder, who came in at 23%.

In the latest tally from SurveyUSA, 51% of over 800 likely voters said they would vote against ousting Newsom. The Democratic Party is urging voters to vote against a recall, as well as skip the second question on the ballot, which asks voters to select a replacement if a recall occurs. On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out in support of Newsom.

But if more than half of California voters support the ballot recall on September 14, the next governor will be one of the 46 candidates with the most votes.

An earlier poll by the University of California, Berkeley, and the Los Angeles Times in July had only 36% in favor of a recall with 51% of registered voters against it, but more recent polls have shown an uptick in votes in favor of replacing the governor. The SurveyUSA poll from August, had 43% of voters favoring a recall.

"We think in the last two weeks of this campaign if the recall looks more and more likely, the Democratic party will be forced to pick a Hail Mary back-up candidate," Paffrath said at a Newsom press event in San Francisco last month. "Given that we're No. 1 in the polls, we hope that's us."

The YouTuber is a real estate investor out of Ventura, California. His channel has nearly 1.7 million followers and focuses on daily commentary on stocks, housing, and stimulus. The channel has turned Paffrath into a multi-millionaire. In the past year alone, he has earned nearly $10 million on YouTube, according to CNBC.

Paffrath says he voted for Joe Biden in the presidential elections and identifies as a centrist. He has been following Newsom on his "Vote No" campaign trail which started in San Francisco last week.

The recall effort has been several years in the making, but has picked up steam during COVID-19 due to concerns over state shutdowns and the gradual reopening of the state. Several major public figures have joined in on the call to get Newsom out of office over the course of the year, including billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya, who pointed to the flight of major companies like Tesla and Oracle from the state.

Paffrath says he plans to address concerns over high taxes, as well as solve issues with elevated levels of homelessness in cities like San Francisco. The 29-year-old's tax plan would have people avoid income tax on their first $250,000. He also plans to make COVID-19 safety measures optional and says he will clear the homeless population from the streets within his first 60 days in office.

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