Schwarzenegger No Shoe-In

Many pundits and media hucksters who don't live in California expect residents of the state known for Hollywood and Ronald Reagan to support movie-star-cum-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger without hesitation. Polls indicate otherwise.

Even with a blitz of media coverage, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger trails his main Democratic opponent in the California recall vote to replace Gov. Gray Davis, a poll released on Saturday found.

A Field Poll showed Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who broke ranks with fellow Democrat Davis to put his name on the ballot, attracted 25 percent support of 629 registered voters surveyed, compared to 22 percent for the star of the "Terminator" films.

The results indicate that two conservative Republican candidates, state Sen. Bill McClintock and businessman Bill Simon, could siphon off enough Republican support to cost Schwarzenegger the California governorship.

These same voters who support Bustamante can be expected to vote against the recall on the grounds that California just elected its governor nine months ago.

Many still think this election is a choice between Gray Davis and Arnold, or Bustamante and Arnold. It isn't.

The poll puts new pressure on California Democrats to decide whether to dump horrendously unpopular Gov. Gray Davis, who has 70 percent negative rating, and rally around Bustamante.

Actually the ballot will ask voters two questions: whether or not they support the recall and whom they would choose to replace Davis should the recall pass. I predict that those who reject the recall will also support Bustamante, just to make sure that a Democrat stays in Sacramento in case the recall does pass.

Schwarzenegger presents an interesting alternative to your typical Orange County conservative, and his hiring George Schultz and Warren Buffet to be economic advisers gives his campaign a great deal of credibility. If Schwarzenegger is serious about being California's next governor, he should be a man and wait until the next election, rather than riding in on the coattails of Darrell Issa's undemocratic recall.