A large majority of Californians think Sen. Dianne Feinstein is no longer fit to serve in the Senate, according to a new poll released Thursday.
In a recent online survey of registered California voters across the political spectrum conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies from May 17-22, 67% of respondents said the senator’s recent health setback “underlines the fact that she is no longer fit to continue serving in the U.S. Senate” ― a chamber she has sat in for more than 30 years.
More than half of voters polled said Feinstein should resign, allowing California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to appoint her replacement.
Her popularity has also plummeted, the poll found, with just 29% of California voters viewing her favorably. That’s eight percentage points down from February and nearly 20 points down from 2018, when she last ran for her seat in the Democratic stronghold.
Feinstein, who is 89, has said she does not plan to seek reelection next year, but she does intend to finish out her term despite her health problems and public displays of confusion at work.
Earlier this month, the California Democrat returned to the Senate after a three-month absence due to illness from the shingles virus and related complications. Since then, she has kept a light schedule in Congress and has only attended floor votes and committee sessions where her vote is needed.
But her long bout with shingles is only the most recent concern. Starting last year, media reports began quoting other senators and congressional staffers who said they’d witnessed signs of a downturn in Feinstein’s cognitive abilities. According to a New York Times report from last May, those around Feinstein said she “sometimes struggles to recall the names of colleagues, frequently has little recollection of meetings or telephone conversations, and at times walks around in a state of befuddlement.”
Politico also recently shared an anecdote about Feinstein in 2021 when she reportedly confused Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) ― both Black men.
Several California lawmakers have already announced their plans to run for Feinstein’s seat next year, including Democratic Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee. The Berkeley IGS poll found that race remains “a wide-open affair,” with 32% of voters saying they’re still undecided.