Whoever wins the governor's race will inherit a host of problems and a constituency that's fed up with up them.
The latest California Field Poll numbers don't show much trust in the state's leadership -- or confidence in its future.
Of the registered voters surveyed in the Poll, 8 out of 10 said the state is "seriously off on the wrong track." Only 1 in 8 answered the opposite.
State lawmakers got their lowest job assessment in 27 years of Field Poll sampling -- 10 percent approval versus 80 percent disapproval.
San Diego County residents interviewed Tuesday, just hours before the gubernatorial debate between State Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee, and Republican Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, reflected those same ratios of dissatisfaction with state government.
"As it is right now, they don't have a budget passed," said Paradise Hills resident Bill Flores. "And I think they're doing a lousy job, managing this state."
"The governor's not working with the legislature, and vice versa," said Encinitas resident Deanne Bernhart. "And we're just not getting anywhere."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings were 23 percent favorable, 68 percent negative. The last time he got majority approval in the Field Poll was nearly three years ago.
With the state's budget still unsigned 90 days into the current fiscal year, bleeding $19 billion worth of red ink, there's an apparent consensus that California's political power structure -- from Sacramento on down to local government -- is dysfunctional.
"Everything's about cutbacks," said Mission Valley resident Dustin Herring. "But if you keep cutting back, how are we supposed to gain anything?"
"I'd like to be an optimist and say that we'll pull ourselves out of it," said Rancho Penasquitos resident Elyce Shorb. "But it seems that we need to get to a point where we can just stop digging. Because right now, we're in the hole [laughs]."
Said Brian Murphy, a Point Loma resident: "The taxes that we have to pay to run a business is almost inoperable ... I like living here, so let's hope that things change."
Five days ago, the governor and key lawmakers announced the "framework" for a budget deal, but today, talks were called off. The governor's people said that union bosses were trying to derail a rollback of pension benefits.
So the record for legislative futility, or obstinacy, continues.