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More Bad News For Governor Schwarzenegger

By R. Michael Alvarez

On June 22, I wrote about the June 2005 Field Poll, and how Governor Schwarzenegger’s job approval rating had fallen dramatically in that poll. There is even worse news from this particular poll for the Governor, as his political stature has sunk to new lows according to further data and analysis of this latest Field Poll released today.

First, as recently as February 2005, 56% of registered California voters said they were inclined to reelect Schwarzenegger to a second term as Governor in 2006. In the June 2005 sample, things reversed. Now, 57% of registered California voters say they are not inclined to re-elect Schwarzenegger as Governor, with 39% inclined to vote for him, and 4% with no opinion. This is a stunning reversal of political fortunes for the Governor, and is undoubtedly a reflection of voter opposition to Schwarzenegger’s plans for a special election this fall and of their anger about the lack of action in Sacramento on important issues like the state’s budget.

The change of fortune for Governor Schwarzenegger is broad-based. Perhaps not surprisingly, 83% of Democrats and 88% of Liberals say they are not inclined to support his reelection bid. But solid majorities of non-partisans and other party identifiers (61%), and ideological moderates (60%) now say they are not inclined to support Schwarzenegger’s reelection bid. Close to one quarter (23%) of Republicans, and almost a third of Conservatives (30%), admit they are not inclined to support Schwarzenegger in 2006. Women are more opposed to Schwarzenegger’s reelection than men (63% of women not inclined to support his reelection, 51% of men), and Latinos are strongly opposed as well (72% not inclined to support him).

Second, when matched against two announced Democratic candidates for Governor in 2006, Schwarzenegger currently loses these survey trial heats. Schwarzenegger now is running behind Phil Angelides, 46% to 42% (12% undecided) in this hypothetical matchup. He also runs behind Steve Westly, 44% to 40% (16% undecided). As recently as February 2005, Schwarzenegger had strong double-digit leads over both Angelides and Westly in the Field Poll.

The polling numbers that have come out this week on Governor Schwarzenegger’s job performance, the special election, and now on his potential reelection bid in 2006, are signs of significant erosion of his standing in California. Democrats, independents, and other party registrants are now unhappy about Schwarzenegger’s performance as Governor, and are disinclined to support his reelection in 2006. And there are signs of recent erosion among Republicans, which is a significant change of events in recent months. Will the erosion continue? Stay tuned to this channel …