California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity has sunk to a new low of 28 percent as he heads into his final months in office grasping for a legacy after a bitter budget fight, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed.
The last time a California governor’s approval rating was that low, then-Governor Gray Davis faced a recall election and was in a budget standoff with the Legislature, the survey released on Wednesday by PPIC said. Davis had a 26 percent approval rating in August 2003.
Californians also gave the state Legislature a record-low approval rating of 17 percent, after spending most of the year watching lawmakers grappling with record deficits and squabbling over the budget.
However, politicians can’t blame malaise over the weary economy for everything, PPIC president Mark Baldassare said.
“It’s not just the budget deficit but the fact that the governor and Legislature together haven’t been able to resolve an issue that many Californians think has just made life in our state and our economic recovery a lot more complicated than it needs to be,” Baldassare said.
A record-low 14 percent of Californians believe the state is headed in the right direction.
Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said several governors of large states have seen their poll numbers drop by double digits as they cope with the bad economy.
“The worldwide economic downturn has had a negative effect on poll numbers across the country,” McLear said. “The governor is focused on creating jobs and turning our economy around.”
The Austrian-born movie star-turned-governor this week signed a budget compromise that cut spending by nearly US$16 billion to close a budget deficit the administration pegged at US$26 billion.
In contrast to their discontent with their state government, Californians seem to believe US President Barack Obama is taking action to spur an economic recovery, Baldassare said. Obama’s approval rating fell about 7 points from May, but remains high at 65 percent.
PPIC surveyed 2,501 adults by telephone in several languages from July 7 to July 21. The survey has a sampling error rate of plus or minus 2 percentage points.