SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — There were encouraging signs on two fronts for Governor Gavin Newsom’s campaign with less than two weeks to go before the recall election.

Turnout will be key, whether it’s walking, biking, or driving up to return 22 million recall ballots sent out. More than 5.1 million are now in. Statewide, Democrats have turned in more than twice the number compared to Republicans.

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“I am very encouraged by how serious people are taking this moment,” said Newsom.

While Newsom campaigned in San Francisco’s Chinatown, leading Republican candidate Larry Elder made an appearance in Southern California.

“You know about the rise in homelessness. All you have to do is drive around this area and look at Skid Row,’ said Elder.

Pointing to homelessness, too, Kevin Faulconer visited San Francisco’s Tenderloin District; the former San Diego mayor trails by double-digits in various polls behind Elder.

“It breaks my heart to see what I saw today on the streets of San Francisco,” said Faulconer. “This is such a great city. We need statewide leadership on this. This governor has failed.”

The newest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows 58% of likely voters say they’ll reject the recall. The margin is slightly larger than in the two previous PPIC polls this year.

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Newsom said he is noticing more awareness over the last several months.

“It’s remarkable finding even half of Democrats realizing this was serious or real,” said Newsom. “That gap is closing in awareness, and that’s encouraging.”

In San Francisco, turnout is high but slightly less at this point in the election cycle compared to November 2020, with the rate of return for Democrats and Republicans about equal.

“So far, returns in San Francisco are very good,” John Arntz, Director of the San Francisco Department of Elections.

Leading to last November’s election were concerns about delays and mail fraud. In San Francisco, election officials say they’re receiving a lot fewer ballots via drop-off compared to the November 2020 election and only seeing a few hundred drop-offs per day.

Last November, that figure was in the thousands.

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