November 1, 2005

Schwarzenegger may be hurting his own cause: poll

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's campaigning ahead of election day next week
has hurt rather than helped efforts to win support for his four
favored ballot initiatives, a poll released on Tuesday found.

Since starting his political career a little more than two
years ago, the former Hollywood star has fueled several come-
from-behind victories though charismatic appearances in the
closing days of the campaign.

This year, as voters consider reforms on teacher tenure,
union political contributions, the state budget and
redistricting, the charm may however be wearing thin, according
to pollster Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll.

"What we are seeing this year is that he's pretty much worn
out his welcome, especially with Democrats and with
nonpartisans," he said in an interview. "It almost has a
counter productive impact in this year's campaign."

Outspent and trailing in the polls, Republican
Schwarzenegger kicked off a new approach last week by appearing
before television audiences not hand picked by his staff as in
previous rallies.

The Field Poll released on Tuesday measured voter reaction
both before the new approach, from October 18-24, and after,
from October 25-30, and found opposition on the rise.

Most recently, 51 percent of likely voters opposed his plan
to let a panel of retired judges draw electoral districts,
compared to 41 percent the week before. Support for the idea
fell over the period to 35 percent from 38 percent.

"The governor's image is a negative drag and it is directly
related to how people are going to vote on these propositions,"
DiCamillo said.

Schwarzenegger's poor poll numbers come a year ahead of his
effort to win reelection, and analysts say the outcome of the
initiatives next week will color the next campaign.

The governor has downplayed poor survey numbers, saying the
only poll that matters will take place on November 8. He has
also scheduled additional live TV appearances this week.

"Californians seeking reform know better than to bank on
media polls," advisor Rob Stutzman told Reuters. "Private
polling shows a surge for reform and an uptick in the
governor's popularity."

The Field Poll of 506 likely voters from October 18-24 and
581 adults the following week found unchanged support at 44
percent for Schwarzenegger's proposal to give teachers tenure
after five years rather than two. Yet opposition rose to 50
percent from 47 percent in the survey, which had a plus or
minus four percent margin of error.

The star of the "Terminator" films boosted support for a
measure giving him more powers to cut the state budget to 32
percent, up from 28 percent. Yet opposition remained at 60
percent, creating a significant obstacle for perhaps the most
ambitious of his special election ideas.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last
week also found the governor did not have the lead on any of
his four initiatives.