California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating dropped to a new low even before a controversy developed about his hefty side income from fitness magazines, according to a poll released on Thursday.

Only 34 percent of adult Californians approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing as governor, compared with 51 percent who disapprove, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The institute’s poll mirrors sinking numbers in a Field Poll last month among registered voters which found approval dropped to 37 percent from 55 percent in February.

“Californians don’t feel that the state is headed in the right direction,” said Mark Baldassare, research director of the nonpartisan institute, adding that Schwarzenegger has had difficulty convincing Californians to support his proposals.

A year before, the institute found 57 percent of Californians approved of Schwarzenegger’s job as governor and 29 percent disapproved.

The institute conducted its poll of 2,502 California adult residents in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese from June 28 through July 12.

Reuters reported on July 13 that the publisher of “Flex” and “Muscle & Fitness” would pay Schwarzenegger more than $13 million over five years to serve as an executive editor. He ended the arrangement two days later.

The former Mr. Olympia had announced the side job last year but not detailed compensation, which opponents say is a conflict of interest because he has since vetoed a bill that would have regulated diet supplements. Manufacturers of the supplements advertise in the fitness magazines.

Democrats have criticized the celebrity Republican governor at a time he had hoped to win support for several ballot measures a special election he called for November.

The chairman of the state Democratic Party filed a complaint against Schwarzenegger on Tuesday with the state’s political watchdog agency and raised the possibility the dispute over outside income could result in jail time for Schwarzenegger.

The Public Policy Institute of California said its survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.