California Elects Arnold In Recall Vote

Elan A. Greenwald

Students watch the results of the California recall election unfold on CNN at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum last night. According to exit polls, Arnold Schwarzenegger will replace Gray Davis as the state’s governor.

Davis is out and Arnold is in, California voters determined yesterday, as the credits rolled on the state’s historic gubernatorial recall election.

Networks declared Arnold Schwarzenegger California’s next governor moments after polls closed at 11 p.m. Eastern time, based on exit polls showing him to have run away with the race.

Actual counts as of late last night showed the recall supported by 1,019,874 voters, or 57.5 percent, and opposed by 755,375, or 42.6 percent.

Schwarzenegger was ahead with 951,437 votes, trailed by Democratic opponent Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante with 548,069.

One night after a Red Sox playoff win sent the campus into collective hysterics, students again gathered anxiously in front of television sets, this time to cheer on—or heckle—the silver screen superstar.

Members of the Harvard Republican Club welcomed the results in the Quincy Grill.

“It’s been enthusiasm and excitement,” club spokesperson Mark T. Silvestri ’05 said of the reaction. “The voters made it pretty clear what they wanted, certainly strengthening the Republican party of California, and therefore the party as whole.”

But the mood was more subdued at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum earlier in the night. As the lights dimmed, members of the Harvard community settled into their seats with popcorn and sodas in hand to watch what many anticipated to be a very bad movie.

“This isn’t government, it’s like a movie script,” said San Diego native Josh Patashnik ’07, who watched the live CNN broadcast with friends.

Wearing a T-shirt that read, “The Smut Peddler who cares! Flynt for Governor,” Patashnik said that, although he voted by absentee ballot against the recall and for Bustamante, the shirt captured his feelings about the election. “It’s symbolic because it mocks the whole process,” he said.

Many of the students watching the news characterized the recall as a mistake.

“I think this whole idea of a recall is crazy,” said Mamie M. Thant ’04, a Maryland resident.

But some found themselves conflicted—dedicated to bringing about greater cultural exposure to the movie star, but opposed to Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial bid.

“My loyalties were somewhat divided. I am the president of the Arnold Cultural Society, and I do love Arnold,” Daniel C. Craig ’04 said as he watched results in Leverett House’s “G-spot” common room. “At the same time, I thought the recall was a little ridiculous. But we’ll see how he does [as governor].”

Earlier in the day, former California State legislator Tom Hayden told about 30 students at an Institute of Politics (IOP) brownbag lunch that field polls projected 65 percent voter turnout. Hayden, who is a fellow at the IOP, said 400,000 people registered to vote over the summer, 70 percent of whom supported the recall.

As for Schwarzenegger, Hayden said that allegations of sexual misconduct recently brought against the former bodybuilder “turned the elections around, but probably too late,” as 2.8 million people voted several weeks ago by absentee ballot.

—Staff writers Alexander J. Blenkinsopp and David H. Gellis contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Associated Press materials were used in the reporting of this story.