Poll: Two-thirds of Californians believe Feinstein no longer fit to serve

The California Senator has lost a significant portion of support amid questions of her mental acuity since returning from a bout of the shingles.

A new poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Los Angeles Times, found that nearly two-thirds of Californians believe that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is no longer fit to serve in office due to her health condition. The poll found that respondents from across the ideological spectrum cited the 89-year-old Feinstein’s latest illness as the reason she should resign, with only 20% of respondents disagreeing.

Why it Matters: Although Feinstein has since returned to the Senate, 52% of surveyed Democratic voters in California believe she should resign, according to the poll.


  • If she does resign, Gov. Gavin Newsom would be able to appoint a replacement to serve out the term. However, voters aren’t sure who they would support in a Senate primary.
  • Republican attorney Eric Early has a slight lead with 18% of respondents, while Democrats aren’t far behind. Rep. Katie Porter polled at 17%, followed by Rep. Adam Schiff at 14%, and Rep. Barbara Lee at 9%.
  • Since her return to Washington, Feinstein has taken on a lighter schedule, appearing in the Senate only at committee hearings or on the floor when her vote is essential. Once a leading voice against gun violence, she skipped a recent Democratic Caucus meeting on guns, and she hasn’t attended any committee activity where her votes aren’t required. A handful of Democratic House members openly called for her resignation during her absence and have not retracted.
  • Fellow Californian and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s eldest daughter, Nancy Corinne Prowda, is among the entourage of aides who have been escorting the senator on the hill. While there is a long and friendly relationship between Feinstein and the Pelosis, the caretaking arrangement has raised questions about whether Nancy Pelosi’s political interests are in conflict with Feinstein’s personal interests.

What they’re saying: Some lawmakers are navigating the situation carefully.

  • Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said last week, “We need her in committee and on the floor,” referring to Feinstein’s critical vote on judicial nominees who lack any GOP support. “We’re doing our best to be sensitive to her medical condition.”
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