By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2011 – 7:09 am

The good news for Jerry Brown is that twice as many California voters like his initial performance as governor as dislike it.

The bad news is that his approval rating in a new Field Poll is just 48 percent, the lowest level for any governor’s first weeks in office since George Deukmejian in 1983.

However, Republican Deukmejian had just won his election by a paper-thin margin while Democrat Brown captured his second governorship in November in a landslide.

Simply put, Brown is less popular today than he was when he defeated Republican Meg Whitman.

He could take solace from the Field Poll finding that he’s three times as popular as the Legislature. But as predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger learned the hard way, a governor’s popularity means almost nothing in dealing with legislators who are elected from gerrymandered districts and are utterly beholden to outside interests.

Within months of assuming the governorship, Schwarzenegger had become so disgusted with legislators’ recalcitrance on the state budget that he denounced them as “girly men” afraid of bucking special interests.

Brown hasn’t gone that far, but he’s clearly dismayed that the Capitol’s political culture has changed so much from what it was 30 years ago during his first governorship. His complex plan to close the budget deficit is sinking in ideological quicksand, abetted by outside interests.

Brown’s frustration is evident in a YouTube video he released on Sunday, telling the voters who elected him, “This is a matter of we the people taking charge and voting on the most fundamental matters that affect all of our lives. So, let me know, let your legislators know, would you like the chance to cast this vote, or would you feel it’s appropriate to shut out the people of California?”

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