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Why Schwarzenegger Won

Anthony Salvanto and Jennifer De Pinto of the CBS News Survey and Election Unit analyze actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in the California recall election.

California Gov. Gray Davis was removed from office by an electorate clearly unhappy with his performance as governor, and concerned that the Golden State had lost some of its luster. While Davis could not overcome the voters' unhappiness, Arnold Schwarzenegger easily overcame the allegations of groping that dogged him late in the campaign.

The former actor heads for Sacramento with the support of voters of all stripes, including many Democrats, as well as many of the Hispanic voters that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente had hoped to capture.

Although Democrats and the Davis camp had held out hope for a last-minute turnaround to save the governor's job, a CBS News Exit Poll of California voters conducted by Edison/Mitofsky revealed that many voters had in fact decided long ago to recall their governor. Sixty-seven percent decided on their vote more than a month ago and just 15 percent decided how they would vote on the recall in the campaign's final week.

Davis got a lot less support from his own party than he is used to seeing: While 76 percent of Democrats voted not to recall him, one in four did vote to oust him. Compare that to 2002, when 86 percent of Democrats voted for Davis and in 1998, 9 in 10 Democrats voted for him.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger got support from many quarters, including women, whom many predicted might be wary of voting for the former actor after charges of womanizing and inappropriate conduct nagged him late in the campaign. That prediction turned out to be wrong: Schwarzenegger won the support of 43 percent of women. Schwarzenegger also won the support of men today with 49 percent of the vote; 36 percent of men voted for Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamante.

Bustamante, who was vying to become the first Hispanic governor of California, did not appear to get the support he had hoped for from Hispanic voters. While he did get the backing of a majority - 52 percent - - Schwarzenegger held his own among this group, drawing 31 percent of Hispanics to his camp.

Before the election, some observers predicted that Schwarzenegger and McClintock might split the Republican vote, but Schwarzenegger overwhelmingly carried GOP voters by 74 percent to just 17 percent for McClintock. Bustamante won the support of over two-thirds of Democratic voters, but 18 percent of Democrats voted for the Republican movie star. Independents also went for Schwarzenegger by a convincing 44 percent to 28 percent margin over the Lt. Governor. Although seven in ten Democrats voted for Bustamante, nearly one in five voted for Schwarzenegger.

Conservatives and moderates supported Schwarzenegger. Half of moderates voted for Schwarzenegger, while 31 percent went for Bustamante. Conservatives backed Schwarzenegger by 67 percent to 11 percent over Bustamante. 20 percent of conservatives voted for McClintock.

Davis was not able to capture the women's vote despite late allegations of inappropriate conduct by Schwarzenegger toward women. Men and women both voted to recall Davis, though men voted to oust him by a larger margin: 59 percent of men voted to recall Davis, compared to 51 percent of women.

Schwarzenegger's voters were looking at a candidate's leadership and personal qualities more than positions on the issues. Among those who voted for Schwarzenegger, 45 percent cared more about his leadership and personal qualities. But overall, Californians said their candidate's positions on the issues mattered more to them in their vote then their candidate's personal qualities. 58 percent said positions on the issues were more important in their vote, while 36 percent personal and leadership qualities were more important.

64 percent of voters said Schwarzenegger did NOT address the issues in enough detail during his campaign, and 31 percent thought he did. This did not derail his effort to reach Sacramento, though, and among those who said he did NOT give enough detail on the issues, 25 percent still voted for him nonetheless.

Of those who came to the polls, 8 in 10 said the state's economy was in bad shape. But there was less agreement as to whether the state's problems can be solved without raising taxes; 46 percent said it could be done, while 48 percent didn't think so. 70 percent are against the idea of issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

While white Californians strongly supported the recall (60 percent to 40 percent), blacks opposed the removal of Gray Davis by 73 percent to 27 percent. But Hispanics were more divided in their vote: 54 percent of Hispanics voted NOT to oust the incumbent Governor, but 46 percent voted to remove him from office.

Davis and his supporters had hoped that strong support from union members could help the Governor stave off the recall attempt. Union voters were against the recall, but not overwhelmingly so, going against it by 55 percent to 45 percent. Also, 42 percent of union-member voters voted for Schwarzenegger.

Voters age 30 to 44 were some of the biggest supporters of the recall, and also a big voting block for Schwarzenegger. 58 percent supported the recall, and 49 percent of them voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among men, those age 30 to 44 also strongly supported Schwarzenegger; 55 percent of them voted for him.

Davis has high numbers of voters disapproving of the job he is doing. But even 28 percent of those who disapprove of his job performance still voted to keep him in office.

Davis has lost support among women since first being elected governor in 1998. In 1998, 60 percent of women voted for Davis and in 2002, 51 percent of women voted for him. Women voted to remove Gray Davis from office by 51 percent to 49 percent.

Political independents supported Davis in his previous two contests for governor, but today they voted to oust him. In 1998, 53 percent of independents voted for Davis and in 2002, 41 percent voted for him. 54 percent of independents voted for the recall today, while 46 percent voted to keep him in office.

Davis lost significant ground among Hispanics today even though 54 percent decided NOT to recall him. Davis had much stronger support in both 1998 and 2002 among Hispanic voters. In 2002, 64 percent voted for him and in 1998 more than eight in 10 Hispanic voters cast their vote for Davis.

Whites overwhelmingly voted to remove Gov. Davis from office today (60 percent to 40 percent). While this group hasn't been a strong component of Davis support in the past, still half of whites voted for Davis in 1998. In 2002, just 38 percent of whites voted for Davis.

While a large majority of liberals came out and voted against the recall today, support for Davis among that group has waned since his first bid for Governor in 1998. Back then, just 7 percent of liberals voted for Republican Dan Lungren over Davis. Twenty-four percent of liberal voters voted to remove Davis from office.

Gray Davis has lost support among all age groups since his first race for governor in 1998, but the most significant loss for support is among those age 30-44. This age group supported Davis in both 1998 (59 percent) and 2002 (49 percent) but these voters voted strongly for the recall today by 55 percent to 42 percent

While voters who are union members came out against the recall at the polls today by 55 percent to 45 percent, Davis' support among this group was not as strong today as it was in 2002. Back then, 64 percent of union voters cast their vote for Davis, while just 30 percent voted for Republican Bob Simon.

The CBS News exit poll was conducted among a total of 4214 voters (3814 as they left the polls and 400 absentees). The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus 2 percentage points. The sampling error for subgroups is higher. The poll was conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.
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