A new poll released by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s popularity has reached record lows in California.
According to the poll, only 35% of California voters approve of Feinstein, her lowest approval rating since first being elected to the Senate in 1992. Conversely, 45% of all voters currently disapprove of her, 5 percentage points more than her previous high of 40% in 1995.
Feinstein’s falling popularity was particularly noticeable when broken down by party affiliation. Republican-affiliated voter approval fell from 23% in 2017 to only 11% in the 2021 Berkeley poll, with non-affiliated voters dropping from 40% to 31%. Most dramatically was her loss of approval from fellow Democrats. The Berkeley poll only showed her at 50% approval among Democrats in 2021, a gigantic, 17-point loss from her 67% rating in 2017.
Feinstein’s startling low approval ratings come after months of controversy surrounding the 87-year-old Democratic Senator. Many Democrats have been disenchanted with Feinstein after showing more leeway towards Senate Republicans, most notably in an October incident in which she hugged Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Many California democrats were also upset that she favored Joe Biden over fellow Californian Kamala Harris during the primaries.
She has also been criticized for her suspicious financial moves, such as selling off stock only days before COVID-19 lockdowns hit US companies in March 2020 and paying a fine in her husband’s name for not disclosing stock purchases earlier this year. Other actions by her husband, Richard Blum, have also hurt her in recent months, such as when it was revealed that Blum had broken UC admittance rules to get underqualified students accepted.
However, the largest factor has been her age and cognitive health. In December, the New Yorker found that she is likely going through a cognitive decline, with many younger voters voicing displeasure with her intention to run again in 2024 when she is 90 years old, further compounding her cognitive issues.
“Across the board, everyone is saying that she just isn’t a good Senator anymore,” Oakland-based pollster Gerald Snyder said. “By and large, they said in the poll that she isn’t as effective now too. There are plenty of other viable Democrats and Republicans out there in California who want the chance, but she just isn’t stopping despite her personal decline. Many democrats have said that they would primary against her in 2024 and it will be interesting to see if they do.”
“What you should take away from the poll is that she is becoming more and more of a liability, with her own party now starting to have second thoughts. You can’t deny the things she has done for San Francisco and the state itself, but at a certain point you have to figure in that maybe it’s time to let someone else with new ideas and a fresh perspective in.”
The UC Berkeley IGS poll was taken in late January and was conducted with 10, 357 registered voters from across the state.
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