A poll over the weekend found that Schwarzenegger’s support may be faltering as voters focus on reports that he groped and harassed at least 16 women over a 25-year period, including one who came forward Monday.
Voters will decide today whether to recall Davis, a Democrat serving his second term, and who should replace him if they do. Most polls show Davis losing his bid to stay in office. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only well-known Democrat among a list of 135 replacement candidates, had led Schwarzenegger until recent weeks, but now polls put him at least 10 points behind.
Uncertainties cloud today’s election. Counties with 44% of the electorate use punch-card ballots similar to those that were discredited after problems in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
The allegations against Schwarzenegger became public after at least 1.6 million voters already had cast absentee ballots and could not change their votes. A high turnout predicted by county election officials, perhaps equaling a presidential election, could produce surprises at odds with late polls.
If the race is tight, it could be days or weeks before results are known. California’s counties have 35 days to report official tallies to the secretary of state. Demands for recounts could come after that.
Democrats marshaled national figures for last-minute appeals. Recorded messages from former president Bill Clinton, former vice president Al Gore, actor Danny Glover, singer Barbra Streisand and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson urged voters to reject both the recall and Proposition 54, a ballot measure that would prohibit the state from collecting racial data.
Recall opponents blitzed the state in the final days with 10,000 door-to-door volunteers, 6 million phone calls, 7 million mailings and more than 1 million e-mails. Schwarzenegger made stops before cheering crowds — female supporters among them — in San Jose, Huntington Beach and San Bernardino.