In the 2000 presidential election, President Bush (search) got clobbered by Al Gore (search) in California, 53 percent to 42 percent.

And although the Golden State is perceived to be chock full of mostly registered Democrats, a recent poll shows that Bush's performance approval rating in that state is now at 52 percent. That means for this year's presidential election, California may be a key state for the GOP — the first time since 1988.

Democrats and Republicans surveyed said Bush is favored for three reasons: Saddam Hussein is in custody, there's more money in their pockets after Bush-imposed tax cuts and actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), a Republican, is in the governor's seat in Sacramento.

Democrats acknowledge there's a bit of a honeymoon period with the Terminator but they believe that will soon wear thin and Bush will have to stand on his own.

State GOP leaders aren't sure if Bush's uptick is an aberration or a turning point, but, to use a California term, they're getting their boards waxed and ready to ride.

Click here for to watch a fair and balanced report by Fox News' Trace Gallagher.