Both Steven Taylor and Kevin Aylward note that, many analyses to the contrary, Arnold Schwarzenegger seems rather clearly to have “won” the recent “debate” among those vying to replace Gray Davis as governor of California. Not only has he moved from slightly behind Bustamante to well ahead, but the recall itself went from likely to probable, according to the most recent Gallup poll:

When asked how they would vote on recalling Davis, 63 percent of probable voters surveyed said they would vote yes, compared with 35 percent who said they would vote no.

In a separate vote to choose a replacement for Davis, Schwarzenegger was the choice of 40 percent of respondents.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was the choice for 25 percent of voters polled, Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock received 18 percent.

The poll showed Green Party candidate Peter Camejo with 5 percent and syndicated columnist and independent candidate Arianna Huffington with 2 percent of the respondents’ support.

While it’s possible this poll is an anomaly, it likely proves what many analysts were saying: All Schwarzenegger had to accomplish was demonstrate that he wasn’t an idiot.

What this also demonstrates is the differences between the mindset of average voters versus intellectuals and political junkies. While I was impressed with Bustamante’s cool demeanor and seeming grasp of the issues–even though I disagreed with most of his policy prescriptions–most viewers just thought he was uninspiring. While I thought Arnold was charming, I thought he lacked substance; most viewers apparently thought he exuded leadership. Thankfully, the mass public and I agree on one thing: Huffington is an annoying idiot.

Update (1555): Drudge notes that Arnold wins in a blowout (58-36 among probable voters) if McClintock drops out. What’s really interesting is that’s with candidates explicitly identified by political party:

If the choice were between Cruz Bustamante, the Democrat and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican, who would you be more likely to vote for: Cruz Bustamante or Arnold Schwarzenegger?

This is surprising, given the Democratic advantage in the state.

What Drudge doesn’t note–and is even more surprising–is that McClintock does almost as well against Bustamante in the 2-way race as does Arnold:

If the choice were between Cruz Bustamante, the Democrat and Tom McClintock, the Republican, who would you be more likely to vote for: Cruz Bustamante or Tom McClintock?

McClintock wins 56-37 among probable voters and 49-42 with registered voters.

The poll.

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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. Anonymous says:

    I think this is going to be another Jessie Ventura. A lot of voters are going to vote for him just out of frustration and as a shot accross the bow to “professional” politicians to get their act together, plus a lot of people who don’t normally vote will do it just to have fun.

  2. As a phenomenon, it is just about exactly like Jesse Ventura.

    However, I think/hope Arnold will do a much better job than Ventura ever did, and I think there are actually good reasons for expecting him to.

    He’s a savvy guy, and a businessman. He might just make a few of the right moves.