California Recall Election

Latest News Stories

Schwarzenegger Picks a Diverse Transition Team - Los Angeles Times (10/10)
Campaign Says Shriver Was its Secret Weapon - San Francisco Chronicle (10/10)
Schwarzenegger Wants Davis to Stop Filling Posts and Signing Bills - NY Times (10/10)
State's GOP Leaders Hope for Party Revival - Sacramento Bee (10/10)
Hasta la Vista, Davis - The Economist (10/10)
Media Scrutiny of Schwarzenegger Short on Proof - FOX News (10/10)
Schwarzenegger Lays Foundation for a Transition to Power - New York Times (10/9)
Schwarzenegger Says Will Ask President for Help - Los Angeles Times (10/9)
Schwarzenegger Repeats Pledge to Cut Taxes - Washington Post (10/9)
Governor-Elect Has Tough Row to Hoe - San Francisco Chronicle (10/9)
Arnold Vows to Open California's Books - FOX News (10/9)
Davis Recalled, Arnold Wins: NY Times | Washington Post | LA Times | SF Chronicle | USA Today | SJ Mercury News | Washington Times | Boston Globe
More Recall Stories

Latest Polls

Poll
Recall Davis - YES
Recall Davis - NO
Final Results*
55%
45%
RCP Average
55.5%
42.0%
57%
43%
54%
41%
57%
39%
61%
39%
56%
42%
63%
35%
53%
41%
57%
42%
53%
42%
50%
47%
62%
37%
55%
40%
62%
38%
52%
41%
64%
35%
50%
45%
63%
35%
58%
36%
58%
37%
69%
26%
54%
35%
*As of 10/9 with 100% of all precincts reporting.

Poll
Schwarzenegger
Bustamante
McClintock
Final Results*
49%
32%
13%
RCP Average
41.5%
31.5%
14.0%
46%
34%
13%
37%
29%
15%
36%
26%
16%
45%
28%
16%
40%
32%
15%
40%
25%
18%
35%
31%
17%
39%
32%
18%
26%
28%
14%
25%
30%
18%
39%
29%
16%
25%
30%
13%
40%
28%
8%
28%
33%
12%
45%
29%
11%
22%
35%
12%
23%
18%
5%
22%
25%
9%
42%
22%
13%
25%
15%
9%

RCP Analysis (Final Update - October 7, 7:27 am):
The late polls continue to show significant slippage away from Schwarzenegger and towards both Davis and Bustamante. Survey USA's final poll (taken Friday through Sunday after the LA Times story broke) shows the "Yes on recall" number dropping 4 points from their previous poll taken only 5 days earlier. Even worse for Schwarzenegger, the spread on recall within the three day poll moved from 25 on Friday to only 14 on Sunday. Obviously, if the same rate of deterioration were to continue through Monday and today, the election could be a real nail biter. Remember, Davis doesn't have to get more "No" votes on recall than "Yes" votes, he just has to keep the "Yes" vote percentage under 50.0%.

On the second question, the same Survey USA poll shows Schwarzenegger's lead over Bustamante dropping from 20 on Friday to 12 on Sunday. McClintock's numbers have flat-lined and actually slipped two points in the Survey USA poll to 14%.

So it appears the LA Times hit piece last Thursday did exactly what it was designed to do: take a big bite out of Schwarzenegger's momentum and give Davis a chance to stay alive. However, in the end we don't feel this is going to change any of the final results - except the margin of victory for Schwarzenegger and the pro-recall forces. It's important to keep in mind that close to 2 million votes were probably cast before the decline in Arnold's support started. If the election day numbers are very close, we suspect those absentee votes will provide the margin of victory for Schwarzenegger.

There is likely to be a huge turnout today, and even with all the allegations swirling around we suspect the turnout will still disproportionately help Schwarzenegger. In the end this election is about change and Californians' disgust with the direction of the state and its current leadership. Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante represent that failed political leadership, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only realistic vote for change.

The dustup from the groping and Hitler stories has prevented this election from becoming a monster blowout and has given Gray Davis the smallest hope that he still might be able to pull out a victory. But there is evidence these stories have also created a backlash among portions of the electorate, including many hard-core Republicans who see it as a politically motivated hit job by the LA Times. As a result, don't be too surprised to see a number of Republicans who were going to vote for McClintock switch their vote to Schwarzenegger solely out of anger toward the liberal machine desperate to stay in power.

Bottom line: Schwarzenegger beats Bustamante easily (10 points or more) and while we think Davis will still be recalled with a vote somewhere around 57%, these ninth-inning revelations have taken a toll and give the Democrats hope - albeit a very small one - that Davis may indeed keep his job. However, hope in the end won't be enough for the Democrats, and California and the country should get ready for Governor Schwarzenegger.

October 3: We felt Gray Davis had a small chance (very small) to survive the recall if he could get his "No-on-Recall" numbers up to 45% in our RCP average prior to election day. However, only one poll has shown his numbers above 45% during the entire race (LA Times, 9/6-10) and the most recent batch of polls, inducing the Times', show Davis's numbers slipping badly. Our RCP average has the recall currently favored to pass 59-38 and at that level, with less than five days to go, Davis is all but finished.

Bustamante's only hope was for a post-debate surge by McClintock to siphon just enough conservative votes away from Arnold to give the him a shot at winning on Question 2. It's not going to happen. Arnold leads Bustamante by more than 12 points in our RCP average, and that's with McClintock polling at 16%. Given that we expect Arnold's final numbers on election night to be better than our RCP average, Bustamante should start looking for a new job.

Clearly, since last week's debate this race has broken Arnold's way. At the beginning of the week it looked as if Arnold might well outpoll Davis's recall total and even had a slight chance of reaching 50%. We'll have to wait and see if the recent stink bombs dropped by the LA Times and ABC News do anything to slow his momentum. Even if these late hits do take a toll on Arnold, odds are this will mean Schwarzenegger still wins, but in a much closer race. And there's a very real possibility - especially when you see pieces like this (and kudos to the LA Times for publishing it) - that the media's last-minute dumping on Arnold will backfire with voters.

While there have been many twists and turns these last two months, the reality is Schwarzenegger became the heavy favorite against Bustamante as soon as he announced on Jay Leno. Overall, Arnold has run a darn good campaign and done nothing to diminish his chances. Bustamante, on the other hand, has run the pathetic campaign we anticipated from him, and whatever momentum Davis may have had was blown out of the water by the 9th Circuit's political interference with the election. Californians should get ready for Governor Schwarzenegger.

September 25:
After several weeks in late August and early September with not much action in the California Recall, the last ten days (the election was off then back on, followed by last night's debate) has taken the race directly into the stretch run. As far as who has the upper hand hand and is likely to win, very little has changed from our original analysis: Arnold Schwarzenegger is highly likely to be the next Governor of California.

First, the interference by the court in temporarily halting the election looks to have significantly hurt Governor Davis's chances of surviving the recall. Prior to the three judge panel's decision, Davis appeared to have been generating some momentum and it looked like he might have a fighting chance on election day.However, the court's blatant political interference served to re-energize the supporters of recall and has given the anti-Davis side the fourth-quarter shakeup that should run well into election day. As it stands today, Davis faces a very uphill battle on October 7.

Second, last night's debate - the only debate that will have any effect on the election - was a solid win for Schwarzenegger. It wasn't a home run by Arnold, but he came across as more than competent and his closing statement offered the voters of California something none of the other candidates did: the hope for leadership. All the media whining, post and pre-debate about how the voters need to here more specifics is just that: whining. Schwarzenegger seems to grasp that what the voters really want is change and leadership. Bustamante and McClintock as life long pols are not poster boys for major change in Sacramento.

Having said all this, the one fly in the ointment on Arnold's path to the statehouse is Tom McClintock. Though Arnold was certainly a winner in last night's debate, McClintock gave a performance that conservatives loved. He came across as extremely competent and scored points among California's conservatives with his answers on illegal immigration and Prop. 54, two of the few positions where he and Arnold differ. The problem with McClintock is that he did nothing to expand his votes outside of that hard-core conservative voting bloc.

Bustamante's best chance for victory remains the hope that McClintock can hang onto just enough of the conservative vote to allow him to squeeze out a victory over Arnold. Bustamante gave an uninspiring though competent performance which didn't hurt him that much, but really didn't help him that much either. Maybe he believes the LA Times poll that shows him ahead, but we feel he lost a golden opportunity to impress upon the voters that he could be a leader for positive change in Sacramento. His strategy appears to be nothing more than to stay low, don't screw up, try and crank out as much of the Democratic base vote as possible and pray McClintock gets a huge chunk of the conservative vote. However, we suspect in the closing days of the campaign more and more conservatives will see this as a two-way race between Arnold and the Democrats (Davis and Bustamante) and enough conservatives will vote "yes" on recall and also for Arnold, dashing Bustamante's hopes of becoming the accidental Governor. Another wild card which favors Arnold is the question of voter turnout, which we anticipate will be huge and will disproportionately help Schwarzenegger.

Bottom line: with 12 days to go Davis looks headed for defeat on Question 1. And unless there is some late momentum for McClintock, Schwarzenegger will outpoll Bustamante and become the next Governor.

September 16: Well, after two weeks of not much action in the California race, something big did change yesterday. We should know in less than a week whether the election will indeed be postponed until next year. Our gut feeling is the election will still be held on October 7, but that is probably not much better than a 50-50 proposition at this point.

If the election is indeed put on hold until next March there is no question it benefits Governor Davis. That is not to say Davis would be a lock to survive the recall next year, just that his chances of survival would be significantly higher. If the election still proceeds this October it's hard to predict how this turn of events will affect the outcome. We suspect a lot will depend on how the decision is reversed. Let's see how this shakes out this week.

September 15: Little has changed in this race over the last two weeks; we still feel Schwarzenegger is likely to be the next governor of California. Ueberroth bowed out as expected, and if McClintock concedes to Arnold before election day, Schwarzenegger will win easily. However, right now the odds seem to favor McClintock going the distance.

McClintock's decision will truly decide whether this becomes a cakewalk coronation for Arnold or a late-night nail-biter, a toss-up between Davis, Bustamante and Schwarzenegger for who will be the Governor. While McClintock's remaining in the race certainly keeps Bustamente's chances alive, what it really does is give Governor Davis a legitimate hope that he might be able to survive the first question on the ballot.

Though we don't put a lot of stock in any one poll the trend in the same poll is valuable in monitoring which way the electorate is leaning. While we are skeptical of the raw numbers in the most recent LA Times poll, we feel the trend from their previous poll is an accurate reflection of the voters. Schwarzenegger gaining 3%, Bustamante losing 5%, McClintock gaining 6% and Davis picking up 2% all jives with where we think the race is heading.

Bustamente's decline and Davis' small uptick makes complete sense as Democrats and independents are starting to realize Bustamente would be a disaster as Governor and Davis ultimately has a better shot at surviving the recall than Bustamente does of squeaking out a victory. The odds of a Governor Bustamente appear very slim to us, as he needs three things to happen to win. First, McClintock has to stay in until the end, probably a 50-50 proposition. Second, Davis has to lose the recall vote, we'd actually give the edge to Davis surviving if Bustamente is looking strong right before the election. And third, he obviously has to beat Arnold which we feel is 50-50 at best, even with McClintock in the race. So, you put all these together and you see why we don't expect a Governor Bustamente next year.

McClintock obviously remains the wild card and the Democrats' fervent hope is he stays strong until the very end, allowing Bustamente the chance to squeak through. Though as we mentioned above, Davis would probably survive in this scenario. However, even if McClintock stays in we still feel the the most likely scenario is effectively a race between Schwarzenegger and Davis, as a general consensus emerges that Bustamente is a loser. And the prevailing disgust with the current economic and political situation in the state places Davis at a distinct disadvantage and is ultimately why it is likely Schwarzenegger will be the next Governor of California.


August 29: Recent polls have been all over the place on this race, and they will likely continue to be as pollsters are going to be more or less guessing at what turnout model is appropriate for October's election. RCP sees little chance Bustamante will be able to beat Arnold in a head to head match up, which is where we think the second part of the recall election appears to be heading. Simon's withdrawal on Saturday was a significant boost for Schwarzenegger and it continues the process of focusing the Republican vote. Expect Ueberroth to follow suit some time in the next several weeks. This will leave McClintock and Schwarzenegger as the sole GOP candidates left in the field, as we feel it is unlikely McClintock will withdraw.

Bustamante is going to attract the core Democratic vote, as well as a sizable vote from the Latino community, which should give him around 35%. His problem is where does he go for votes after that? As much as Davis and many on the Democrats' side want to play up the recall as a partisan power grab by the GOP, they are wrong to underestimate the genuine level of disgust and frustration with the management of the states' affairs in Sacramento by people all across the political spectrum, not just Republicans. There are going to be a significant number of moderate Democrats and independents who would typically be predisposed to vote for the Democratic candidate, but in this election they may take a pass, especially if they see Bustamante as merely a continuation of the current failed policies.

Bustamante's best chance is to hope McClintock can hang around and continue to pick up support from the state's conservatives, siphoning votes away form Arnold. With Schwarzenegger's liberal positions on most social issues, and the potential for actions and comments from his colorful past to blow up into a mini-scandal at any time, this is not an unreasonable possibility. However, even if McClintock stays strong until the very end we think Arnold will still be able to pull out a victory, as we suspect he will attract a significant number of non-typical voters, much like Jesse Ventura did in Minnesota. If McClintock fades and the race becomes a clear two-way battle between Cruz and Arnold, Schwarzenegger will win big and it is even possible he will get over 50% of the vote.

Of course all of the above is irrelevant if over 50% of the voters do not vote to recall Governor Davis. All of the polls except one (the LA Times) have shown 54%-69% majorities willing to vote for the ouster of Gray Davis. Our current RCP average which includes the very pro-Democratic LA Times poll still shows support for recall running 57.3%-38.7%. While the evidence continues to remain strong that Davis will indeed be recalled, we think the Democrats have a better shot at getting that pro-Davis recall number below 50.0% than they do of having Cruz out duel Arnold. So expect the Clintonesque strategy of trying to turn this into a partisan food fight to continue, especially as we get closer to October 7 and the Democrats realize Davis, and not Bustamante, might be their only shot to hold on to power.

Bottom line, barring some nugget from Arnold's past blowing up into a huge scandal, it is highly likely that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be the next Governor of California.


More Recall News Stories

Analysis: Voters in a State of Change - Los Angeles Times (10/8)
Analysis: The Young, Angry Used Ballot Power - San Francisco Chronicle (10/8)
Analysis: From the Beginning, Davis Faced Uphill Task - Sacramento Bee (10/8)
Analysis: Voters Turn Davis Into The Fall Guy - Washington Post (10/8)
Analysis: New Leader, New Tumult - New York Times (10/8)

Officials Warn of Absentee Vote Factor in Recall Election
- New York Times (10/7)
Recall Race Wraps Up in a Whirlwind - Los Angeles Times (10/7)
On Eve of Vote, California Race Remains Fluid - Washington Post (10/7)
Influx of Young, Occasional Voters Favors Arnold - San Francisco Chronicle (10/7)
Recall Now Up to Voters in California - USA Today (10/7)
Candidates Crisscross State, Allegations Follow Arnold -Sacramento Bee (10/7)
Last Appeals Made as Polls Show Tight Race - San F
rancisco Chronicle (10/7)
Emerging Lessons of the Recall - Christian Science Monitor (10/7)

Schwarzenegger Still Leading, But Undecideds Grow - USA Today (10/6)
Mud Flows on Eve of Election - Sacramento Bee (10/6)
Recall Campaign Turns Nasty - Washington Post (10/6)
At Wire, Recall Race Tightens Up - Los Angeles Times (10/6)
Davis Needs Big Last-Minute Boost to Defeat Recall - San Francisco Chronicle (10/6)
Recall Voters Face an Intricate Ballot, and, Indeed, Chads - New York Times (10/6)
Support Strong to Recall Davis- Washington Times (10/6)
Can 'Outsider' Allure Withstand Allegations? - Christian Science Monitor (10/6)
Davis Questions Actor's Ability to Lead - San Francisco Chronicle (10/6)
Schwarzenegger Defended by Women - Washington Post (10/6)
Voter Revolt It's a California Thing - Los Angeles Times (10/6)

Click Here For More California Recall Stories

RCP Recall Analysis

Election Date: October 7, 2003

Official List of Candidates

Major Candidate Web Sites
Gray Davis
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Cruz Bustamante
Thomas McClintock
Arianna Huffington

Recall Coverage
Associated Press

California Insider Weblog
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Orange County Register
Sacramento Bee
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
San Jose Mercury-News
Washington Post

Polling Web Sites
Field Poll
Los Angeles Times Poll
Public Policy Institute of Calif

Party Web Sites
California Democratic Party
California Republican Party