In this solid blue state Gov. Jerry Brown is often referred to the “adult in the room” and the check on a spendthrift Democratically controlled legislature. Does that make him appealing to Republicans?

In the new Public Policy Institute of California poll, Brown gets a 24% approval rating from Republicans. Brown’s score may be considered fair in the highly polarized political atmosphere of the day. Overall, the PPIC poll found Brown’s handling of his job approved by 52% of adults compared to 32% who disapprove. The numbers were closer among likely voters, 50% approved to 40% disapprove.

An interesting item in the poll is the reaction of voters characterized by ideology. If Brown were truly seen as a moderate his numbers should be strong with voters classified as moderates. However, moderate voters split on Brown. 46% approved of the job he is doing, 43% disapproved. It is the liberal voters that embrace Brown. 81% approve, 9% disapprove. The governor scores 19% approval with conservative voters.

You might expect Brown’s approval rating with members of the opposing political party would be higher than other recent governors nearing the end of term in office given California’s current economic strength.

But you would be wrong.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating was 33% among Democrats in the May 2009 PPIC statewide survey. Curiously, he scored nearly the same with Democratic voters as Republicans at 38%. Independents approved his job at 35%.

Schwarzenegger’s overall approval was much lower than Brown the year before he left office. The across the board similar polling results of Democrats, Republicans and Independents speak to Schwarzenegger’s attempt to find middle ground and work with Democrats that angered  members of his own party.

Meanwhile, Democratic governor Gray Davis found little support from Republicans in the PPIC polls in the year of the recall election. His February approval rating with Republicans in the PPIC poll was 14% and dropped to 8% in PPIC’s June poll.

But it would seem in a Democratic state that continues to drift further left, Brown would find grudging respect from Republicans.

I put the question to PPIC president Mark Baldassare who saw the logic in the premise. “Governor Brown is doing reasonably well in his job approval ratings among Republicans especially in the highly partisan context of politics today,” Baldassare wrote in an email. “He has benefited from a strong economy and no budget dramas for several years while his message of spending restraint, paying down debt, and saving for a rainy day is one that finds supporters across party lines.”

That support is 24%, good but not remarkable.