Taken on its own, his record in office is distinctly underwhelming. He was elected on two populist promises: to resolve California's budget crisis and to reform the political culture in the state capital of Sacramento. Today, the budget crisis is as bad as it was a year ago. Schwarzenegger was eventually able to push through a budget, but it was late and merely rolled over the $12bn debt into the coming years. And despite his populist rhetoric, the political culture in Sacramento runs along pretty much as before, with Democrats and Republicans sparring, doing deals and being swayed by lobbyists. But Schwarzenegger's poll ratings remain in rude good health, with 65% saying that they think he's doing a good job.
"He's more of a politician than anybody expected," says Marc Cooper of the LA Weekly. "He's certainly more of a politician than your average politician. To be an effective politician, you probably have to be a good actor."
"He wears risers in his boots," counters Mulholland. "He's a 5ft 10in citizen of Austria who believes his real place in history is to be president of the United States. You've got to be distrustful of a politician who has a makeup artist with him 24/7."
"His real gift is to let people see him as the Terminator and see the characters he's played," says Jamie Court, founder of ArnoldWatch.org, a website devoted to cataloguing the governor's relationship with big business. "And they don't pay much attention to what he's done. What he's proving is that all politics is showbusiness. He's a brand."