If the early exit polls are to believed, the vote wasn't even close. It's at least a ten point spread on the Recall question and a similar margin for Arnold. The race is to see if the "no on recall" vote is higher than Arnold's percentage, which would deprive the Gropenator of a mandate. Reportedly, a higher "no" vote will give various liberal groups a stronger rationale to then start a drive to recall Arnold. Ugh. Will people give it a rest already?!?
The problem is the process. This faux-populist madness needs to stop. This shit makes me wish I hand a billion dollars to bank roll the Initiative to End All Fucking Voter Initiatives Ever in California Ever Forever.
And contra most of my friends, I don't see the Gropenator being nearly as fucked up as Bush. Sure, he's a Republican, with a pathetically simpleminded worldview to boot. But he's inherited a 20 billion dollar problem (the size of the state budget deficit, after all the smoke & mirrors are removed), and he's mandated to balance the budget. Because of the idiotic initiatives that voters have passed, the governor's hands are tied anyway (many budget items are mandatory and he can't run up a deficit to solve all his problems like some people). Undoubtedly, the poor will get jacked by the massive spending cuts that are needed, but it'll be checked somewhat by the Democratic legislature. Plus, he commands no standing army.
Other questions: (1) will Arnold help Bush take the state in 2004? Actually, it'll be funny if the Bush people believe this and start throwing money into California's black hole. Unless things change dramatically, Bush has about a 3% chance to take California. (2) Will Arnold reinvigorate the moribund California Republican Party? Unlikely. I expect Arnold to have a Ventura-like term; lots of publicity and hot air, but his gradiose pronouncements frustrated by the agonizing horse-trading and compromising that goes into governing. Like Ventura, he'll end up not running for re-election. But if he does move the Republican towards the middle and revitalizes it as a viable party, that's only good for California politics. It'll keep the CalDems on their toes, so they don't stock their leadership with Kafkaesque technocrats. How in the world did a bloodless, charisma-free hack like Gray Davis become the Governor of California anyway?
What's worse? Arnold's win (a) starts a new trend of doofus-celeb candidates who run because they think they're entitled to public office, or (b) spawns a cottage industry of "post-modern cultural critiques" about celebrity and politics.
Late-breaking benefit! Mickey Kaus will finally shut the fuck up and go back to pimping welfare reform 24-7. Why I keep reading this knee-jerk contrarian blowhard, I have no clue.