Reuters reports that California Governor Gray Davis has the lowest approval numbers of anybody, ever:

A Field Poll of 629 registered voters found just 22 percent of voters approved of Davis’ performance as governor — lower than former U.S. President Richard Nixon on the eve of his 1974 resignation. Of the respondents, 58 percent said they would vote to recall Davis, a Democrat, on Oct. 7.

The dismal numbers make the incumbent look ever more like the proverbial 97-pound weakling compared with muscleman-turned-actor Schwarzenegger. The “Terminator” seeks to use discontent with politicians like Davis — a bland three-decade veteran of state government — to lift himself into the governor’s mansion.

“The numbers equal the lowest we have ever recorded for any elected official,” pollster Mark DiCamillo said.

The story also features a photograph of a very stupid woman with large bosoms.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. At this point, Davis is probably about as low as he can be in the polls. BTW, it looks like Arnold is unintentionally doing everything he can to help him.

  2. Kevin Drum says:

    I don’t think Davis is going to survive, but on the other hand I wouldn’t take these numbers too seriously. The real campaigning hasn’t even started yet, and no TV ads have run. Davis is a very clever guy, and once the race gets going he might very well be able to turn that 58% into 48%.

    Basically, my prediction is that Davis is going to lose, but I don’t think I’d actually be willing to put money on it.

  3. James Joyner says:


    I agree. I mainly find the stats amusing in that, so far as I’m aware, he hasn’t committed any crimes or anything.

    My prediction is that Davis is recalled and Bustamonte wins. The caveat is that Arnold will win if Simon and the other Republicans drop out.

  4. James, if Simon & McClintock both drop out (very unlikely to happen, as I am sure you will agree), Davis will NOT be recalled because the GOP base will not turn out in sufficient numbers for Schwarzenegger.

    What the candidate #’s in the Field Poll released this morning show is that with only one conservative GOP candidate, there was a good chance of that candidate winning. That won’t happen now.

  5. James Joyner says:


    None of the conservatives are doing even double digits. Simon was running against a pathetic governor under the best conditions possible for a challenger and still lost.

    California is clearly left of center. A “movement” conservative has no shot whatsoever in an at large election, and probably hasn’t in 30 years.

  6. While I tend to agree with you, James, I think this WAS the one last chance for a “true” conservative to win. The two candidates combined have 17 – pretty respectable in that field.

    With the two front-runners ripping each other apart (it will happen), a third viable candidate on the ballot would be major beneficiary of the “pox on both your houses” vote.

    What they really needed, and what they had until the unions leaned on Garamendi, was two “name” Democrats in the race. The turnout for this election will probably end up leaning far more GOP than any recent election. A single GOP conservative would probably easily get at least 25% and more likely 30%. After Arnold’s balloon deflated, if it did (and looks like it may), that was probably a winning number.

    In the last election, with only a few candidates and little money or attention, minor party nominees took 10%. If Ueberroth and his money stay in the campaign, all of the assorted also-rans will easily exceed 15% (I wouldn’t be surprised of a group total of 20%).

  7. James Joyner says:

    I figure the No vote on the recall will be at least 40 percent. Bustamonte should get that much by default, then.

  8. Yes, he may, but remember that he needs a good turnout of No voters and that still isn’t guaranteed. It depends entirely on Davis waging a decent campaign to keep his seat, and his main backers are hesitating. Without a strong “No” cmapaign, Bustamante becomes the issue, not Davis. Bustamante is not as impressive a campaigner as Arnold has thus far shown himself to be.

    BTW, this is why the framers of the original recall legislation wrote it so that those who vote No could not vote on the replacement. It is within the realm of possiblity that Davis could be recalled 75-25% and the man who replaces him someone who opposed the recall and elected entirely by the small minority of voters who also opposed the recall, thereby thwarting the “will of the people.” (A judge threw that provision out earlier this month.) Gives new meaning to the “law of unintended consequences” I think.

    (And with that, I’ll quit taking up your bandwidth. Your patience is appreciated.)

  9. Paul says:

    I’m not so sure Kevin…

    Davis’ ads won’t help him. (much)

    Davis has a LONG history of running attack campains. That is fine ad all when you are running against a person but he is running against himself AND 2-4 other people.

    If it were him vs Schwarzenegger, he could slam Schwarzenegger. But how can he go negative against 2 or 3 people all at the same time.

    He is good at making himself the lesser of two evils. It is REAL hard to be the least of 4 evils.


  10. John Lemon says:

    Statistically speaking, the N of 629 will mean a “margin of error” (95% confidence interval) of about +/- 6 percentage points.

  11. Don’t assume that all Democrats will vote for Bustamante. I believe that some will dutifully vote “no” on the recall–and then vote for Arnold or Arianna Huffington.

    Remember–they aren’t happy with the status quo either. Anyone from the establishment is in danger right now.

    I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk for Arnold; anything could happen.