Let me make one thing clear -- a Governor Schwarzenegger will not put California in play for Bush. Period. No more so than Gov. Brad Henry puts Oklahoma in play for the Dems. CW is that a governor will give his party a 1-2 point boost in a presidential election. In a close state (like Arizona or New Hampshire) that could make all the difference. In California, it'll never happen.
Matthew Yglesias also chimes in, pointing out that Arnold's moderate conservatism helps to counter the rightward shift of American politics- and suggests a larger trend:
The several states are not hermetically-sealed units, they contain similar groups of people who are basically watching the same campaign, albeit the sorts of people come in different numbers. If Bush were somehow able to gain the level of support among white suburban women in California that he would need in order to put the state in contention, he would gain a similar level of support among white suburban women everywhere which would put him over the top in all kinds of states with more white people than California and he would win the election in a landslide. It's like how Bill Clinton managed to win Georgia in 1996 � it was nice icing on the cake, but any election that has Georgia in contention is an election the Democrats are winning anyway, so it'd be silly to make that the strategy.
Personally I just can't wait for Bush to try and milk political mileage out of a Arnold governorship:
Arnold: Our surplus has been Erased! I am here to pump up the economy and terminate the deficit!
Bush: And I'm here with your Homeland Defense unfunded mandates. And a new Reliant Energy contract. Enjoy!