U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein continues to enjoy a large advantage in her bid for a fourth full term, with a new statewide poll showing the Democratic senator widening her double-digit lead over GOP challenger Elizabeth Emken.
Field Poll results released today show the 79-year-old incumbent leading her opponent by 26 percentage points, 57 percent to 31 percent, heading into the final seven weeks of the campaign.
Feinstein is preferred by voters in almost all geographic and demographic categories considered by the poll, with Emken holding a slight edge among voters in California's Central Valley region.
The numbers echo the Democratic senator's 2006 campaign, when pre-election polls showed her leading former GOP legislator Richard Mountjoy by similar margins.
She went on to trounce her challenger, 59 percent to 35 percent.
"It seems like I've seen this movie before," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said.
Getting on the radar of California voters continues to be a challenge for Emken, a former executive and lobbyist for a nonprofit organization focused on autism.
More than two-thirds of likely voters surveyed by Field still have no opinion of the candidate, who has so far failed to raise the campaign cash needed to make a mark statewide.
Her low-budget campaign has consisted largely of speaking appearances to GOP groups, radio interviews and aggressive social media outreach since she landed a spot in the runoff with just under 13 percent of the primary vote.
Feinstein, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, is both well-known and liked by voters.
Her job approval rating has jumped eight percentage points since July, with 53 percent of poll respondents giving her high marks.
"Now that she's back in the arena, the election campaigning arena, the voters kind of return home, especially the Democrats but also the nonpartisans," DiCamillo said. "It's an interesting phenomenon. I really haven't seen it before."
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