A strong majority of California voters think nearly-90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein is “no longer fit to continue serving in the U.S. Senate,” though oddly, she’s actually gaining support among Republicans.
It feels rude to even post pictures of Senator Dianne Feinstein in her current state. But she’s the senior senator from the nation’s most populous state, and she’s being paid good taxpayer money to do whatever it is she does these days, so her condition is, unfortunately, newsworthy.
The drumbeat of “WTF is up with Dianne Feinstein?” started in late 2020, when the first batch of “cognitive decline” articles seemed to confirm rumors about her mental acuity that had been going around for years. We’ve had close to three years of stories about her memory loss and rumors of dementia since, and things really came to a head when she got a shingles infection (with many complications) and missed nearly three months of Senate votes this year.
Yes, Feinstein returned to duty in early May, though in such a state that she seemed to not even realize she’d been absent. We learned that she is suffering from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which has both physical and cognitive symptoms and does not always resolve itself. And now the Bay Area News Group reports on a new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies which found that two-thirds of California voters feel that “no longer fit to continue serving in the U.S. Senate.”
Of course, we’re the same California voters who reelected her by a 54%-46% margin in 2018, so we may only have ourselves to blame.
“The poll clearly shows that while support for Senator Feinstein has waned considerably since 2018, there is no clear consensus about how the process should play out,” Institute of Governmental Studies co-director G. Cristina Mora told the News Group. “This will impact her ability to connect with voters and serve her constituents over the remainder of her term.”
As Mora mentioned, voters are split on how to solve the Feinstein problem. The poll found 42% said she should resign immediately, 27% felt she should serve out her term, and 31% were undecided. But very interestingly, Feinstein’s decline seems to please Republicans, as the News Group reports that the poll found “fewer Republicans view Feinstein unfavorably — 78% now and 87% in 2018.”
That same poll also went into the Senate race to succeed her. While there are three big-name Democrats running for her seat, they seem to have splintered Democratic voters so that little-known Republican Eric Early holds a pyrrhic lead. Early is polling at 18%, with Rep. Katie Porter at 17%, Rep. Adam Schiff at 14%, and Rep. Barbara Lee at 9%. Those numbers will surely change drastically in the lead-up to the March 2024 primary (where the top two will advance), which is still 10 months away.
But the winner’s term does not start until January 2025, so we are still presumably stuck with Feinstein as our senator for another 17 months. Unless… you know.
Related: Feinstein (Absently) Issues Defiant Statement as NY Times Editorial Board Calls For Her Resignation [SFist]
Image: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attends a business hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill May 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. This was Feinstein's first hearing after fighting a case of shingles and being absent from the Senate for almost three months. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)