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Schneider: The recall as it relates to the U.S.

CNN's Bill Schneider
CNN's Bill Schneider

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- As action movie hero Arnold Schwarzenegger spent his first full day Wednesday as California's governor-elect, many Americans outside the Golden State may be wondering how, if at all, the special recall election might affect them in the long term.

Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in Tuesday's special election, and voters chose Schwarzenegger, a Republican, who will inherit a sagging economy and a large state budget deficit. CNN political analyst Bill Schneider offered some possible links between California's recall and the rest of the nation. To what degree was the recall election a referendum on the economy and can you extrapolate that to President Bush and the rest of the nation?

SCHNEIDER: It very much was a referendum on the failure of leadership on the economy. The economy had deteriorated in California and the voters thought Gray Davis really didn't have a vision or a plan for how to turn it around.

He didn't have leadership qualities and voters will judge politicians all over the country, including President Bush, on precisely that criteria. Not simply, '"The economy's bad, throw the bums out," but "The economy's bad, does this guy have a plan to do something about it that we find acceptable?" That's what voters are saying about President Bush.

About three million jobs have been lost since 2000. Most voters don't blame Bush for that job loss, but they say, "Does he have a program to deal with it?"

Well he does, it's tax cuts, but you know what? Most Americans think they're not really working. "Well, what else is he going to try? Does he have any other ideas?"

That's they way he's going to be judged, just as Gray Davis was judged.

Certainly, Californians did not think the recall was a circus, they thought it was a serious process. They took power into their own hands and they felt empowered by it.

People across the United States are probably going to be impressed by that, even though they were laughing at California and the carnival of candidates that kept coming out.

And they're going to say, "Why can't we do that here?"

Well, one problem is, they can't do it there because the laws are different, and they make it much harder to do recalls. Not all states even have laws allowing for a recall and those that do, make it much more difficult. Many have requirements that are much harder.

There's even some talk in California of stiffening the recall requirements. But I'm not sure they're going to do that, because the voters think this thing worked just great.

They fired the governor, my God, the people took power into their own hands. They got a new governor who at the moment is very popular. They defied the political insiders. They defied the press and they feel very strong.

I think other voters outside California are going to be impressed. But the question is not, "Are they going to recall their politicians?" but, "Are they going to change the laws to make it easier to do that?"

That's a far more complicated process.

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