More than half of the state’s registered voters think it would be a “bad thing” if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic fixture in California politics, were to run for a sixth term in Congress next year, according to a new statewide poll released Monday.
Voters were narrowly split over whether Feinstein should run for re-election, with 52 percent saying no and 48 percent saying a 2018 run would be a “good thing” for California, according to the Berkeley IGS Poll. When reminded that Feinstein will be 84 next year, the split widens, with 62 percent of voters suggesting she shouldn’t run.
“It’s an interesting result that may just show some voters think it may be time for someone new to join in,” Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said. “It’s an indication, perhaps, that some voters are growing restless and want a new face in Washington.”
Still, 59 percent of total voters approve of the job she’s doing. That grows to 82 percent among just Democrats, according to the poll.
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“She’s always maintained very high job performance ratings,” DiCamillo said. “All in all, voters would be inclined to support her if she did run.”
Feinstein, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, has hinted heavily that she plans to run. A crowded field of contenders would likely assemble if she decided against it. The state’s senior senator from San Francisco had a pacemaker installed earlier this year. That and her age have fueled speculation over her re-election prospects.
Her age “has been a point of discussion among insiders as to whether it’s going to be a factor, so we thought it would be interesting to test that,” DiCamillo said.
In the poll, 56 percent of respondents said they’d be inclined to vote for her if she does run. Reminded of her age, that number drops to 50 percent.
Of those who don’t want her to run for a sixth term, the majority do not consider themselves Republican or Democrat. Broadly, those registered as a “no party preference” are younger, newer voters who represent the growing diversity of the state’s electorate, including Latinos.
“With the hyper-partisanship in Washington, generally Californians are choosing to register themselves without reference to either of the major parties,” DiCamillo said.
The poll also gauged support for other politicians should Feinstein opt out. Gov. Jerry Brown, who will turn 80 next year, got the highest level of support at 23 percent.
Ashley Swearengin, former Fresno mayor and the only Republican included in the poll, had 22 percent support.
Among Democrats, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti came in second, with 8 percent, followed by Rep. Jackie Speier of Hillsborough with 7 percent, Adam Schiff of Burbank with 5 percent and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra with 4 percent.
Coming in with 3 percent were Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer. Rep. Eric Swalwell of Dublin had 2 percent. The poll indicated 20 percent of voters are undecided.
Angela Hart: 916-326-5528, @ahartreports