PPP Poll: CA Now Prefers Gray Davis Over Arnold (And Still Loves Ballot Initiatives)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), who ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in a stunning 2003 recall election, has now suffered all the natural consequences of actually being governor of California – in fact, he’s so unpopular that voters might actually prefer having Gray Davis back. But beyond that, the state’s systemic problems that have ruined the both of them are here to stay.

The new survey by Public Policy Polling (D) gives Arnold an approval rating of only 19%, with a whopping 71% disapproval. By contrast, Gray Davis’s personal favorable rating is a much healthier (but still awful) 32%, with an unfavorable rating of 44%. Respondents were asked: “Who would you rather have as Governor now, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Gray Davis?” The answer turned out to be Davis 44%, Schwarzenegger 38%. The survey of registered voters has a ±3.95% margin of error.

This same batch of polling also gave Democratic former Governor and current state Attorney General Jerry Brown a 46%-40% lead over Republican former eBay CEO Meg Whitman — the same six-point margin between Davis and Schwarzenegger. PPP’s Tom Jensen writes: “The Davis/Schwarzenegger breakdown is actually a pretty good proxy for this year’s Governor’s race. Voters in the state don’t like Jerry Brown (or Davis) but they like Whitman (or Schwarzenegger) even less and that drives a Democratic lead.”Unfortunately, the poll also finds that California is in no hurry to get rid of one of the main causes of the woes that people have usually blamed on Davis and Arnold: The ballot initiative process. California’s constitution promotes gridlock by requiring high social spending on programs that have been mandated through piecemeal referenda, limiting tax options, and also requiring a two-thirds supermajority in order to pass a budget. Naturally, the actual tasks of governance become quite difficult.

The poll asked: “Do you think Californians should keep the right to vote on ballot propositions, or should props be eliminated from the California ballot?”

The answer: Keep propositions 74%, eliminate them 13%.

So good luck in 2011, Gov. Brown/Whitman. You’ll need it.

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