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Liberals sour on Sen. Feinstein, leading to all-time low approval rating

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s approval rating has plummeted among her state’s own voters, according to a new poll, with liberals accounting for much of the drop.

Just 35% of registered Californians approve of Feinstein’s job performance, compared to 46% who disapprove, a Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Thursday shows. Her approval is tied with a late January poll for the all-time low, while the 11-point underwater margin is the lowest in her nearly three-decade career.

Among California’s “strongly liberal” voters, just 45% said they approved of Feinstein’s performance, while 40% said they disapproved. Among “somewhat liberal” voters, Feinstein’s ratings stood at 49% approval and 29% disapproval.

Many liberals expressed outrage at Feinstein last fall, accusing the former top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee of mishandling the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Feinstein praised how then-Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham handled the hearings, and lost her status as her party’s top Judiciary Committee member after the 2020 election.

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

Feinstein, who successfully overcame a primary challenge from the left in 2018, is the Senate’s oldest member. There have been rumors that the 87-year-old may retire before her term ends in 2024, but has not said if she will retire and has filed paperwork to run for reelection in 2024.

The poll showed California Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed in January to serve the remainder of Vice President Kamala Harris’s term and is up for reelection in 2022, having a relatively unknown profile in the state, with 46% of voters saying they had no opinion of him. Despite his low profile, he had a 14-point positive rating, with 34% approving and 20% disapproving.

The survey was conducted from April 29 to May 5 among 5,036 registered voters across California, and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

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