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Field Poll Leaves Schwarzenegger with Little Choice


Shortly after California’s June 6, 2006 Primary, the State Republican Party began running a pair of ads urging Californians to take the Golden State, “forward, not backwards,” by re-electing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ever since, his lead over rival Phil Angelides has grown from five to eight to thirteen points.

Fellow Democrats are not helping Angelides, either. Garry South, the campaign manager for Angelides former rival, Steve Westly, blogged his honest opinion. “Angelides looks wrong, sounds wrong, is wrongly positioned and is running the wrong kind of campaign.” Democratic infighting could hurt more than any CRP ad.

Meanwhile, the Governor’s re-election team is investing thousands of man-hours organizing a ground game unseen in California since the CREEP back in ’72—recruiting thousands of volunteers for the fall—in June and July.

While it might be tempting to rest easy – given the state of the opposition and take the double-digit lead for granted, Schwarzenegger’s people know that he has failed to crack 50% in any poll. His numbers have held steady at 45% while Angelides’ numbers have slipped. Even with the planned mobilization of volunteers, the roadmap to getting that next five percent that would assure a November victory for Arnold is unclear.

At the 30,000 foot level, Schwarzenegger has two basic choices. He can use his celebrity and increasing likeability to support his fellow Republicans running statewide. Or he can campaign with Democrats, like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to promote a package of five infrastructure bonds that will be on the ballot in November.

The reason it’s such a tough choice is that neither are all that popular. Of the infrastructure bonds, only proposition 1B—the transportation bond—has a majority of voters supporting it and the proposed affordable housing bond is losing like a Christian Conservative running for Mayor of San Francisco.

Alternatively, the Republican ticket isn’t doing much better. All down-ballot Republicans are trailing their Democrat opponents and only Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and Insurance Commissioner candidate Steve Poizner are within spitting distance of the other party.

Facing those choices, Arnold does have one option left. He can be his own man and steer his own course. It’s an approach that columnist Jill Stewart says has worked well for him on immigration issues. Until last December when he brought on new staff and reassembled his campaign team, Schwarzenegger too often tried to follow someone else’s path. But since he decided to be his own man, those poll numbers are looking mighty fine and that individualist path – the one that got him elected in the first place – may prove the winning course.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 9:58 AM | Permalink

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