SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) call for a special election and a new advertising campaign to promote his agenda have failed to arrest his slide in popularity, according to a new statewide poll.
According to the Field Poll (pdf) released Tuesday, 37 percent of registered California voters approve of Schwarzenegger's job performance, a drop of 18 percentage points since February.
Continuing a trend that began in January, 53 percent of registered California voters said they do not approve of Schwarzenegger's performance. That's a jump of 18 percentage points since February.
The biggest decline came among Democrats and nonpartisan voters, but the poll also found Schwarzenegger's support among Republican voters has fallen.
"In many ways, this poll was a reaction to the call for the special election," said poll director Mark DiCamillo, who noted that the seven-day survey began June 13, the same night Schwarzenegger announced his decision to call the special election.
"I was surprised," he said. "Usually, you would think there would be some positive spin coming out of an event like that, but not here."
Among the measures the governor is asking voters to approve Nov. 8 are limits on state spending, redrawn legislative and congressional districts, and changes in tenure for public school teachers.
The poll found that 52 percent of voters oppose holding the election while only 37 percent are in favor of it. In February, 51 percent of voters favored the idea with 45 percent opposed.
When voters were told that the election will cost between $45 million and $80 million, support fell to 28 percent, with 61 percent opposed and 11 percent undecided.
The governor's chief political consultant was quick to dismiss the poll results, arguing that Schwarzenegger has yet to fully unleash his campaign for the ballot measures.
"I would caution the opponents of reform not to believe summer poll numbers. Let's not forget that in the summer of 2003, the Field Poll predicted Cruz Bustamante would be our next governor," consultant Mike Murphy said in a statement.
Speaking in an interview before the poll was released, Schwarzenegger told ABC's "Good Morning America" his situation was like a movie script.
"It's now in the middle of the big struggle," he said. "First Act, I have to stop the bleeding and turn the economy around. Second Act is reform. Third Act, then, is the rebuilding of California."
The governor's job approval among Democrats dropped to 16 percent from 34 percent in February. Among independents, his support fell from 48 percent four months ago to 35 percent today. Among fellow Republicans, approval fell from 84 percent to 66 percent.
The Legislature also shared some of the voters' wrath, according to the Field Poll, with just 24 percent of voters saying they approve of the job lawmakers have been doing. That represents a drop of 10 percentage points since February.
The survey, conducted over seven days ending June 19, was drawn from interviews with 954 California adults that included 711 registered voters. It has a sampling error of 3 percentage points.