Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger


By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

This was hardly what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger envisioned seven years ago.

The movie-star governor, who took office in 2003 on a promise to “clean house” in Sacramento, remains mired at a personal-low 27 percent approval rating, according to a Field Poll released today.

Even worse, only 7 percent of registered voters think Schwarzenegger will leave California government in better shape than he found it, while 59 percent believe he will leave it in worse condition, the poll found.

California has struggled the last two years with severe budget problems and now faces a $19.9 billion deficit through June 2011. Schwarzenegger proposed a budget in January that promises painful cuts, while the Legislature remains sharply divided.

“He was elected in a special election and ran as an outsider under this populist theme,” said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. “He was going to blow up the boxes and get rid of the bureaucracy. Voters were behind that mentality, but they don’t view him as being successful in carrying out that message.”

Tamela Wilson, a 39-year-old Republican voter from Folsom, said she disapproves of Schwarzenegger’s performance and believes he will leave the state worse off than when he entered office.

She is discouraged by the state’s economic problems and unemployment level. A health care worker, Wilson said she thought the governor would do more to make state and county health care programs more effective.

“I don’t know that I thought he would absolutely change everything, but I thought he’d make improvements,” Wilson said. “I don’t think he’s been as active as he could have been.”

The Legislature’s approval rating also remains near a three-decade low at 16 percent, according to the poll. That’s an incremental change from the 13 percent rating the Legislature had in October, roughly equivalent to the poll’s 2.9 percentage-point margin of error.

“This cloud of uncertainty about the budget is just hanging over and impacting everyone’s views right now,” DiCamillo said. “Whether it’s cuts in popular programs or tax increases, people have a suspicion they aren’t going to like what’s coming, and you have to view the current job ratings through that prism.”

Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear didn’t blame voters for their views.

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