Joel Kotkin, the Valley-based author and political analyst, proposes in The New Republic that Reagan conservatism's ideological heir for Californians is not Bush or anyone in the red states, it is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Later in his career Reagan would genuflect to the religious right, but neither he nor his California friends shared their evangelical passion. He refrained from the judgmental moralism of a George W. Bush, much less a John Ashcroft. "Let's face it," Armand Deutsch, a member of Reagan's inner circle and a prominent California businessman, suggested to me over two decades ago, "each person is shaped by their circle and their friends. People around Ronnie care about the economy, the loss of American power around the world. We do not talk about marijuana or gay rights and those things. We are not interested."
As governor, Reagan's pro-business philosophy trumped all other concerns--including his allegiance to conservative principle. For instance, when California faced fiscal disaster, Reagan raised taxes to recover the state's bond ratings. In fact, by his second term, Reagan had managed to shift his support base from the rabid right, which had provided his campaign foot soldiers in 1966, to California's corporate establishment. This pattern would later be repeated nationally, as Reagan gained respectability with major corporate interests in the years between his unsuccessful run against Gerald Ford in 1976 and his triumphant second-term victory in 1984.
Reagan connected with Californians because, like them, he had come west to follow his individual ambition...By contrast, George W. Bush has never achieved the same universal connection with the national suburban population outside the south...Californians have never warmed to Bush, or to his style of politics. State residents of all classes have a hard time swallowing the moral agenda of the current administration and the current Republican Party. Distrustful of government, Californians don't favor using "moral values" as a rationale to ban stem cell research or gay marriage. Indeed, conservative and middle of the road Californians have no more love for bureaucrats in the bedroom than they do at the office, on the farm, or in the shop.
Kotkin argues it is Schwarzenegger who "epitomizes the core values of the former president--strongly pro-business, pro-technology, and highly patriotic."