Will he be back?

California voters have soured on the Governator in a big way.

Published May 26, 2005 6:59PM (EDT)

"In just 19 months," the San Francisco Chronicle reports this morning, "the euphoria that followed Schwarzenegger's landslide victory in the election that recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis has turned to despair."

According to a poll taken by the Public Policy Institute of California, just 40 percent of Californians now approve of their action-hero governor; that number is down from 64 percent a year ago. Schwarzenegger's signature initiatives face similar disapproval. His plan to hold a special off-year election in November -- he wants voters to approve his education plan, a redistricting measure, and a budget policy -- is opposed by two-thirds of residents. The state's voters, it seems, have begun to discover the truth about Arnold.

Schwarzenegger has until June 13 to call for a special election, but his advisers tell the Chronicle that the governor isn't looking at polls like this one for guidance on his decision, and that they're confident that a recently launched television ad campaign will persuade many in the state to come over to Schwarzenegger's side. That confidence is perhaps justified; the governor's got a nice mug, and when he's gone on TV in the past, things have gone well for him. On the other hand, we wonder if his recent intemperate comments -- his endorsement of the Minuteman Project and call to "close the border," his speculation on the unmanliness of his fellow lawmakers, etc. -- may have reduced Schwarzenegger's chances for a sequel in 2006.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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