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Schwarzenegger losing ground in Calif., poll says

Majority surveyed oppose a 2d term

SAN FRANCISCO -- A majority of California voters does not want to see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reelected, according to the latest poll showing the Republican's political appeal is sliding.

The nonpartisan Field Poll of registered voters found that just 39 percent said they were inclined to give Schwarzenegger a second term, while 57 percent were not. As recently as February, the numbers were almost reversed, with 56 percent of those surveyed saying they were inclined to reelect Schwarzenegger and just 42 percent were not.

A series of polls released by Field researchers indicates that Schwarzenegger has lost considerable ground among voters in recent months. The drop in the governor's popularity has coincided with his push for a fall special election for voters to consider several ballot measures aimed at curbing the power of Democrats and public employee unions in state government.

Earlier installments of the poll have shown that Schwarzenegger's job approval ratings have tumbled amid voters expressing skepticism about the special election and tepid support for his ballot measures.

Schwarzenegger has said he would favor negotiating an agreement with legislators over the ballot measures that could avert a contentious showdown in the fall.

Still, the findings released yesterday indicate that Schwarzenegger has fallen out of favor with almost every major demographic group.

The governor still has considerable support among Republican voters, with 71 percent saying they were inclined to reelect him.

But the poll found that 83 percent of Democrats, who form the majority of the state's registered voters, would oppose a second term, as would 61 percent of Independent voters. Solid majorities of Hispanic voters and women also say they do not want to see the governor reelected.

''This is a definite turn away from the governor," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. ''It's fallen so far, so fast and in a very broad-based way."

Todd Harris, a Schwarzenegger political adviser who is working on the special election campaign, said the poll results on a would-be election did not concern him. ''It's June of '05 and they're talking about November '06," Harris said. ''I'm not exactly losing sleep over a poll that asks voters about a hypothetical ballot matchup that is 17 months away."

Schwarzenegger has not announced whether he plans to seek a second term.

The poll found that the governor's sagging political fortunes have bolstered the status of two Democrats who have announced they are running for governor. In hypothetical one-on-one matchups, the poll found that voters would chose state Treasurer Phil Angelides or Controller Steve Westly over Schwarzenegger.

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