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Feinstein ratings plummet as California liberals abandon senator

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OAKLAND — Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s standing among California voters has plummeted this year after liberals in the state have soured on Feinstein’s centrist approach, according to a new poll.
The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found th…


OAKLAND — Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s standing among California voters has plummeted this year after liberals in the state have soured on Feinstein’s centrist approach, according to a new poll.

The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found that 46 percent of California registered voters disapprove of her job performance and only 35 percent approve — essentially the reverse of her ratings in December 2017. It is Feinstein's highest disapproval rating since she took office in 1992.

The finding extends a precipitous drop for Feinstein: she has failed to register majority support in the IGS poll since 2007, and a late January IGS poll put her underwater for the first time.

As the longest-serving senator in California history, Feinstein has become a fixture in the state’s politics for nearly three decades. But she has increasingly appeared out of touch with California’s evermore liberal politics as the Democratic Party moves to the left both in California and nationally. While Feinstein fended off a challenge from the left in 2018, easily dispatching former state Senate leader Kevin de León, the base flashed a warning sign as the California Democratic Party endorsed de León over her. Feinstein has since stirred discontent among California voters and the left writ large.

Liberals last fall were infuriated by what they saw as Feinstein’s mishandling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings right before the November presidential election. Feinstein — who nominally led Democrats’ counteroffensive as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee — praised how Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) handled the hearings during a divisive campaign season. Feinstein subsequently lost her post, and other Senate Democrats have murmured about whether the 87-year-old Feinstein is up to the job.

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That progressive disillusionment is evident in the Berkeley IGS poll’s findings. While she still mustered majority approval among registered Democrats, her favorability in her own party has fallen by double digits since 2017. Her standing among liberals has declined by more than 20 percentage points in recent years and her position among voters younger than 40 has also dropped by double digits. She is even underwater in her Bay Area home base.

“Feinstein’s decline among liberals and young voters suggest that core Democratic constituencies are now less likely to view her as an effective advocate," IGS co-director Eric Schickler said in a release.

Feinstein’s advanced age and the frustration she inspires on the left have prompted regular speculation that she might resign before her term ends in 2024, allowing Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a replacement. Newsom set off a minor frenzy in March when he said he would select a Black woman to replace her. But Feinstein has been adamant that she intends to serve out her full term, and Newsom has said he believes she will do so.

Voters are still assessing their new senator, Sen. Alex Padilla, though far fewer have negative opinions of his performance. Newsom appointed Padilla to the Senate in January to replace Vice President Kamala Harris. Despite serving in statewide office as California secretary of state, Padilla remains largely unknown a few months into his Senate tenure: the largest bloc of voters (46 percent) had no opinion of Padilla.

Still, they were more likely to approve of Padilla’s performance than disapprove by 34-20 margin.

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The high number of voters with no opinion suggests a malleable electorate as Padilla prepares to defend his seat in 2022. While Padilla has moved swiftly to consolidate elected California Democrats behind him, it’s possible he will face a Democratic challenger. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who is popular among progressives, remains conspicuously absent from the list of Padilla’s endorsers.

The survey was conducted April 29 to May 5 and was partially funded by the Los Angeles Times.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/05/13/feinstein-ratings-plummet-as-california-liberals-abandon-senator-1381915

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