California's love affair with Arnie is terminated

The big-screen action hero-turned-Governor of California is fighting for his political life. On Tuesday, he hopes voters will approve a package of measures that he either put on the ballot himself or personally approved. But the election itself has been roundly denounced as a waste of time and money by a majority of the electorate, and the four key Schwarzenegger-backed issues are rated anywhere from modestly to catastrophically in opinion polls. Having campaigned for the governorship as an independent-minded Republican beholden to nobody, Mr Schwarzenegger is now seen by critics in both major parties as having succumbed to the great American disease of rule by division. Three of his four ballot initiatives, which cover everything from budget management to political fundraising by unions to job security for teachers, are widely viewed as partisan attacks on the public service workers - teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police - who have been most vocal in their criticism of him.

Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for his enemies, while approval of his performance is almost exactly the same as President Bush's. That, in turn, is having a knock-on effect on his campaign for Tuesday's so-called "special election". The Governor's handlers recently realised that associating Mr Schwarzenegger with the ballot initiatives was harming their prospects. So they pulled every advert they had planned in which he made a personal appearance and hastily ordered a new one, in which the Governor strikes a note of contrition for the disastrous past few months. "I've had a lot to learn," he says, "and sometimes I learned the hard way."

All is not lost. Special elections are notorious for their low turnouts, and the Schwarzenegger camp is hoping that many of the Governor's detractors will stay away and allow him at least one or two victories out of the four. One ballot initiative, not sponsored by Mr Schwarzenegger, appears designed as a deliberate inducement to conservative voters, since it would require parental notification for teenagers seeking abortions. Much like the initiatives on abortion and gay marriage that boosted the Republican vote in last year's presidential election, the idea here seems to be to get right-wing Christians to the polls, in the hope that they would then vote for the rest of Mr Schwarzenegger's agenda.

But the Governor's supporters, once thick on the ground, have been noticeable this time mainly by their absence. Most glaring has been his own wife, Maria Shriver, who has offered not one public word of support. As a Democrat and a member of the Kennedy family, Ms Shriver presumably can't bring herself to endorse an open attack on the very groups her party holds most dear - teachers and healthcare workers. If her husband is defeated, it will raise questions about whether he can seek re-election in a year's time. He has said he will run, but this appears primarily motivated by a desire to secure corporate contributions for the special election.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: PR and Press Executive - Beauty

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue