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Governor, Legislature's Popularity Numbers Sink to Historic New Lows

by Indy, published

Californians are taking an increasingly dim view of the governor and members of state legislature, according to a new Field Poll released on Friday.

The poll shows that nearly three out of four survey respondents -- some 74 percent -- say they do not approve of the job that members of the California Legislature are doing -- likely a reflection of their deep dissatisfaction surrounding the state's mangled and heavily politicized budget process.

"This is the poorest rating of the state legislature ever recorded by The Field Poll in trend measures dating back to the early 1980s," survey heads Mervin Field and Mark DiCamillo said in a statement about the dismal numbers.

The current poll finds that voters' job appraisals of the governor and state legislature are related to their voting preferences in the upcoming May 19 special election. The measures appearing on the ballot, Props. 1A-1F, were hatched by Republican lawmakers last February as part of a last-minute deal with state Democratic leaders to secure their votes so that an actual state spending plan could finally be passed.

A Field Poll released last week found that more likely voters were intending to vote will vote "no" rather than "yes" on each of the first five ballot measures that are featured in the election. Those measures have been nearly universally supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and many legislative leaders.

The poll also revealed that a record number of Californians are not happy with the performance of their celebrity chief executive.

The current survey finds just 33 percent of registered voters approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing, while 55 percent disapprove -- numbers that also represent new lows amongst the 23 Field Poll voter surveys of Schwarzenegger since he took office in 2003.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor "gets" that Californians are upset with the status quo.

"(He) understands that people are frustrated with the dysfunction in Sacramento, which is exactly why he is pushing so hard for the ballot measures so California can get back to financial stability," McLear said.

Field and DiCamillo said that voters' low approval ratings of the governor are shared almost evenly among Democrats, Republicans and non-partisans, with 52 - 57 percent majorities, respectively, disapproving of his performance.

Interestingly, the pollsters found that Schwarzenegger's approval rating is highest (45 percent) among voters in the nine-county Democratically-dominated San Francisco Bay Area, while his lowest ratings, 67 percent, were found in the generally more moderate Los Angeles County area.

Field and DiCamillo said the poll surveyed 901 registered voters was taken April 16-26 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Follow Jeff Mitchell's political journalism at

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