A couple of points.
First, Arnold received more votes in total than the number of votes for the “No Recall” position (i.e., votes to keep Davis). If, as was possible, 49% of the people had voted “No Recall”, and a much smaller number had voted for Arnold, we would have been in the somewhat uncomfortable position of having Arnold elected when, arguably, he had received less votes than Davis. That critisicm is now moot, at least with respect to this particular election (it is still a problem if this ever happens again, and I think we should fix the process because of that).
Second, the national press and pundits that see Arnold’s victory as a referendum on Democrats generally, and as a sign that California is now “in play” for the Republicans in ‘04, are, in my opinon, greatly misreading this result. This election was an angry reaction against one person’s policies and tactics. It was anger at the bad economic situation, anger that Davis had won the election only by default, and anger at Davis’ history of negative campaigning. At the time he was re-elected, Davis had extremely high negative numbers, and by the time he was recalled, his negatives were in the 70 percent range. Above all, it was a desire for a change at the top, in the hope that a fresh face could make a change. All of those factors can also work against Bush – a negative feeling about the Florida debacle, anger about the national economy, anger about the policies and tactics coming out of the White House, a desire for change at the top. I would be shocked if California went for Bush in '04.
Finally, along the lines of what laigle said, Bush has not been a friend to California. He has seen it as a sure loser for him since day one and has governed accordingly – the White House’s indifference to California in the recent water wars, the favoritism to the Texas energy industry during the power outtages, the issues regarding off-shore oil drilling – he has not endeared himself to California.