It’s party time―again. It’s time for all the good, little, right-wing boys
and girls of the OC, Inland Empire, and Central Valley to strut their stuff
at the California Republican Party convention―again.
Seriously, how many of these things do these guys have every year?
Still, this one ought to be interesting.
The PPIC poll out today shows Schwarzenegger has failed to gain traction
with the public, despite his infrastructure bond marketing tour. In fact,
Arnold’s approval rating has tumbled down to 35 percent among all adults,
dropping five points since January.
Arnold was hemorrhaging support from the left and the middle after the
special election debacle and now is bleeding profusely from the right
because of his apparent leftward lurches on the bond package, minimum wage,
and because he installed former Democratic Party operatives to work on his
campaign and staff. Heck, even the new California Republican Party spokesman
is a former Clinton-Gore operative.
The fact that the California Republican Assembly didn’t have the votes to
force the Party into rescinding its endorsement of Schwarzenegger doesn’t
change that fact that they are one ticked-off crew. The base of the party
has been mollified with promises of a policy debate over the issues, but the
wingers are not pleased with the governor’s flip-flopping. They have seen
his rhetoric (not his actions, mind you) jump from hardcore fiscal
conservative to a big borrowing spend-o-crat. The Governator is going to
have to work hard to keep the wingers on his side.
So what are we to expect from the gathering of elephants in San Jose this
weekend? How will Arnold shore up his support from the right-wing activists
so critical to his upcoming reelection effort? Two words―Red Meat. When
Arnold drops as low as 35 percent, it means he’s having trouble with his
base. When he has trouble with his base, he tends to pander. Will Arnold do
that again in San Jose?
Perhaps Arnold will remind the GOP faithful about some of the right-wing
things he’s done for them while in office: stopping immigrants from getting
driver’s licenses (a policy he follows strictly himself); stopping gay
marriage; and fighting the ability of unions to spend money on political
issues? But if he does, how will all the pandering play back in Sacramento
with both Republicans and Democrats?
Schwarzenegger often talks about paddling a little on the left, then a
little on the right. But what we’ve actually got is a governor who is
constantly getting carried away by the current. This weekend, we’ll see just
how far right the Republican base can push the Arnold canoe.
Another force that might push that canoe is the coverage by GOP bloggers.
Remember, this is a governor who was so concerned with the way conservative
bloggers reacted to his appointment of Susan Kennedy that he invited Jon
Fleischman into his office to give him a one-on-one briefing on his
proposals. These folks will be commenting on Schwarzenegger and the
happenings of the GOP convention in real time and we will see how much of an
influence that has on the policy and political discussions.
Last November’s ballot fight showed us the impact a demoralized Republican
base has on the outcome of an election. Even with Schwarzenegger and his
conservative sidekick Tom McClintock campaigning up and down the state, the
voters still rejected their message. Arnold has been trying to make noise on
the left ever since then, and he’s paying dearly for it with the base. If we
witness yet another flip-flop in San Jose and hear Red Meat rhetoric for a
red state crowd, it will confirm what we already know_this guy’s troubles
are far from over.