A man smiling into camera.


A 29-year-old YouTuber is charging up the polls as California’s recall vote nears

Kevin Paffrath has leveraged his social media savvy to court votes—but don't call him 'just a YouTuber.'


Claire Goforth


Posted on Aug 18, 2021   Updated on Aug 19, 2021, 8:34 am CDT

A 29-year-old YouTube millionaire is now leading in polls to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

Kevin Paffrath is one of nine Democrats seeking to replace Newsom. A recent poll found that he led the pack of 46 challengers, with 27% of those polled saying they’d vote for him. Slightly more than half said they supported recalling Newsom. The next closest was Republican Larry Elder, with 23% saying they’d vote for him.

Paffrath’s “Meet Kevin” YouTube channel has nearly 1.7 million subscribers. His channel reportedly made $10 million last year alone. There he riffs on real estate, economics, and his gubernatorial campaign.

Paffrath has courted voters on both sides of the aisle.

A self-described centrist who says he voted for President Joe Biden, according to Business Insider, Paffrath has relentlessly attacked Newsom.

He’s particularly withering in his criticisms of Newsom’s COVID-19 measures, which in part fueled the successful movement to have a recall election. On his campaign website, Paffrath says, “Newsom failed us,” and blames these restrictions for bankrupting a third of the state’s restaurants.

If elected, he promises to first tackle issues associated with homelessness, schools, housing, and transportation, then move on to lowering taxes, preventing fires, ending the water shortage, fixing immigration issues, and more.

On a recent “ask me anything” on YouTube, someone asked him about guns. “I have a good TikTok on this,” he said, then talked about removing some restrictions on gun ownership in the state and accusing liberals of oversimplifying the issue.

Paffrath, a real estate investor, has leveraged his YouTube following and social media savvy in his campaign.

While social media may have given him the name recognition it takes to get elected, he resents being brushed off as “just a YouTuber.”

His standing in the poll indicates that Californians are taking Paffrath seriously.

The Democratic Party is urging voters not to select a backup candidate, and to simply vote against recalling Newsom, Paffrath is hoping that will change as the election nears.

The recall election will be held on Sept. 14. If more than half of voters choose to recall Newsom, the candidate with the largest share of votes will become the state’s next governor.

If elected, Paffrath would be the youngest governor in the state’s history.

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*First Published: Aug 18, 2021, 11:55 am CDT