Short Takes: The Schwarzenegger Effect
A new Field poll in California showed that just one in four voters approve of the job Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his lowest rating in the six years since he took office following the recall of then Gov. Gray Davis (D).
Just 27 percent of Californians approve of how Schwarzenegger is handling his duties while a whopping 65 percent disapprove -- a stunning turnaround from September 2004 when Schwarzenegger was riding high off of the recall and his winning campaign with two-thirds of voters approving of the job he was doing.
In fact, Schwarzenegger's current job approval numbers are the second lowest of the last six California governors as measured by the Field poll -- eclipsed only by the 22 percent approval rating for Davis in August 2003. (Fascinating fact: the lowest Republican Gov. George Deukmejian's approval score got was 53 percent!)
The decline and fall of Schwarzenegger as governor has potential implications in the race to succeed him.
Meg Whitman (R) is running for governor as a quasi-celebrity candidate thanks to her immense personal wealth and high national profile as a result of the decade she spent atop eBay.
While Whitman downplays the "celebrity" nature of her candidacy, it is a bid built -- at least in part -- on the fact that she is a known name in the state and nationally.
Given Schwarzenegger's struggles, California voters may well be less likely to go with outsider candidate with no governing experience to run their state in 2010 than they might have been four or eight years ago when they ousted the ultimate bureaucrat (Davis) in favor of a Hollywood celebrity.
State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, one of the candidates challenging Whitman in the Republican primary, is already trying to tie Whitman to Schwarzenegger. "California has had enough of celebrity candidates who think they can buy the race," said Poizner, who is personally wealthy and putting his money into the race, during a recent interview with the Fix.
If Poizner's theory is right, the beneficiary could well be former Rep. Tom Campbell (R), the low-key Congressman who is hoping to shoot the gap created by a warring Whitman and Poizner.
The more competitive Campbell is, the more the shadow of Schwarzenegger will loom over the proceedings.
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