I didn't see the recent California Gubernatorial debate but a Newsweek analyst seemed to think that Tom McClintock won on points; Arnold Schwarzenegger overcame low expectations; Cruz Bustamante looked bad; and Davis may have been the real winner.
I'm opposed to the recall because I don't think it's fair to Davis as he could enjoy higher popular support than any of the other candidates and still get booted out of office. I also think it is apt to inspire copy cat partisan reprisals down the road. That being said, for my money, McClintock looks to be the best qualified candidate to replace Davis. But unless Arnold drops out, which seems unlikely, McClintock doesn't appear to have a chance of beating Bustamante. Because of his name recognition and star appeal Schwarzenegger has a better chance to pick up votes from independents and democrats. Arnie is a rank political opportunist and unqualified to be governor, but then so is Bustamante. Arnold would be far more likely to be a check on the legislature which is dominated by democrats. His victory would also deny the dems another large-state governorship useful for fashioning an electorally-advantaged presidential candidacy. Finally, at the very least, Arnold promises to be highly entertaining.
Hopefully McClintock will drop out of the race if he hasn't pulled even with Arnold as the election draws nearer. I suspect his real ambition was to boost his name recognition for a later run for the governorship or a senate seat anyway.
Even those conservatives who favor the recall should consider voting against it if neither McClintock or Arnold pull out of the race. Gray Davis is prevented by term limits from running again but Bustamante could run as the incumbent for another term.
UPDATE: The Economist thinks [subscription required] that McClintock is probably unelectable because of his stand on abortion. I'm not sure that's true. I'd be an example of someone who supports the availability of abortions who would nonetheless consider voting for McClintock if he had a better chance of winning. I am heartened to learn from the same article that Arnold has tapped Milton Friedman to be an economic adviser. That clinches my endorsement.