The more ‘Arnold’ it is, the more ‘No’ it is

[One in a series on the California special election]

From the results of the LA Times poll, as reported over two days in the week before the election, a very striking pattern is readily apparent for the four measures The Governator supports and the one advocated by conservatives but that he has taken no position on. That pattern is that the ones that are most clearly favorable to the governor are the ones that are drawing the most opposition. The governor is a drag.

The measure most associated with the governor is the one that would give him (and successors, of course) authority to declare a fiscal emergency and implement budget cuts if the legislature did not pass cuts the governor liked within 45 days. The ads against this have heavily exploited the governor’s unpopularity, juxtaposing images of teachers and firefighters and other public servants with images of a rather grim Arnold with words like “the governor could cut our schools.” This measure has the biggest no vote, according to the Times poll.

Arnold is also closely associated with the redistricting measure. It is something he has talked a lot about since becoming governor. He has had high-profile battles with legislators that he says are out of touch (remember “girlie men”) and has said he needs more moderates elected in order to “solve the problems of California.” The measure won’t make much difference for electing moderates or producing competitive races where Republicans might defeat some Democratic incumbents, but these goals clearly are in the governor’s interest. It has the second highest negative.

Two other measures that he favors but that are not as immediately apparent as measures the governor himself would benefit from are much closer in the polls. These are the teacher tenure measure (the one that is too close to call in the Times poll) and the one on the political uses of union dues. (An interesting aside is that the teachers’ unions are among the biggest spenders in this race, opposing both of these measures, and yet the one that teachers have the clearest stake in is the one Arnold-favored measure that is most likely to pass.)

Finally, there is the abortion measure. Arnold has not taken a stand on this, presumably to try to maintain his increasingly strained image as a “moderate” Republican (against polling evidence that he is now seen as just as much a ‘conservative’ Republican as Bush). This one is ahead in the polls.

From the Times poll results, proposition by proposition:

73 (parental notification for minor’s abortion)
Arnold: no position
Yes 51, No 39

74 (lengthen pre-tenure probation period for teachers)
Arnold: In favor
Yes 45, No 47

75 (union member opt-in rather than current opt-out for political use of dues)
Arnold: In favor
Yes 40, No 51

76 (state spending limits and gubernatorial authority to order cuts)
Arnold: In favor
Yes 31, No 60

77 (three retired judges to re-draw state legislative and congressional district boundaries before 2006 elections)
Arnold: In favor
Yes 34, No 56

Perhaps surprisingly, on prop. 77, even independents are solidly opposed. They are the group that allegedly would gain the most from the goal of more competitive districts, yet they oppose it, 56-29—slightly less support than in the electorate as a whole.

Republicans are most enthusiastic not about the two that most benefit their governor (76 and 77), both of which are supported by around 57% of Republicans, but the other two, which over two thirds of Republicans favor. This pattern is consistent with the ideological expectations: These are anti-labor-union measures.

Democrats likewise recognize the ideological dimension to props 74 and 75, opposing both by around three fourths. But they are even more opposed to the other two measures that are most associated with Arnold (eighty-five percent Democratic opposition to prop. 76!).

The bottom line is that the antipathy of independents and the revulsion of Democrats against a governor who once had broad cross-party appeal is the biggest factor in why the measures most closely associated with him are going down to defeat, while the more traditional left–right policy issues at stake in propositions 74 and 75 are much closer (and are thus much closer than the state’s partisan divide, which strongly leans Democrat).

0 thoughts on “The more ‘Arnold’ it is, the more ‘No’ it is

  1. I think that it is important to ask around for the real facts. Arnold is simply not telling you the truth – especially regarding Prop 74. There is NO SUCH THING AS JOB SECURITY FOR LIFE in education. First, as a teacher, I have 2 years to prove myself and if that does not happen, schools would fire me rather than take the chance on someone who is not a great teacher that MIGHT get better. In fact, schools can and WILL fire candidates without stating a reason. If I do make “tenure”, I am formally evaluated every 2 years. On my off years, I can be fired. The principal just has to have cause.

    All this is while principals constantly walk in and out of my class without notice and parents watch my every more. I think that it is ridiculous to make it sound like I have some job security. Proponents of Prop 74 point out an isolated case of a teacher not being released from duty for misconduct but that is not the norm.

    And when you do fire all the teachers, who are you going to get to replace them. Teachers are always the scape goat and are not paid very much for their efforts. Why would anyone want the job at this point?

  2. Yes, Paul makes excellent points about the misconceptions many in the public have over what “tenure” means in public schools.

    I will add one more: My wife is a teacher, and I was shocked when I found out that one’s tenure is not portable. I naively had assumed that once you had it, if you were hired by another district, you were hired with tenure, because you had already proven yourself to be competent. (That is certainly how it normally works in my profession.) She has taught for many years, and has changed districts twice due to moves, and the “clock” restarted both times, and that included having to take a lower salary initially in the new district.

    We live in a very mobile scoiety, where someone might move in search of more affordable hoiusing or because of a spousal job change. Yet a teacher pretty much has to start over if he or she moves.

    And, yes, there are a lot of arbitrary principals out there who will abuse hire/fire authority for reasons unrelated to competence.

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