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Californians vent frustration at Schwarzenegger, legislators

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval rating is now at 27 percent according to a new poll. It's the second lowest rating for a California governor in 50 years – and the legislature's is worse.

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been clobbered – yet again – in opinion polls.

The most recent Field Poll released Tuesday gives him 27 percent approval rating, the poorest of his tenure and the second lowest of any Golden State governor in 50 years.

But the low marks suggest more than mere voter disillusionment with the governor, experts say. They reflect growing malaise among Californians distresses by their state's inability to throw off chronic problems made worse by the grip of the recession – from troubled schools to taxes.

The poll expresses the sort of voter angst that is "bigger than one politician or one party," says Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

It also comes amid growing calls for deeper changes to California's complex political system, which critics complain gives too much power special interests and ballot initiatives.

In fact, according to the Field Poll, a large majority of Californians want to see lawmakers tackle two of the state's most vexing problems in special sessions: 73 percent of respondents favor one to deal with California’s water woes and 62 percent want a one dedicated to tax reform.

Even though Schwarzenegger supports water and tax policy overhauls, many analysts are skeptical that he can achieve such ambitious changes, especially with such low ratings.

“Governors are just getting blamed for the hard times,” says Tony Quinn, political analyst and co-editor of California Target Book. “This all reflects a general public dissatisfaction with the fact that this recession just goes on and on, and the government just can’t seem to do anything about it.”

That disappointment doesn’t stop with the governor. The Field Poll shows voter unhappiness with state legislators, too. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said lawmakers were falling down on the job – the lowest rating in the Field Poll’s history.


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