The new Field Poll found that only 43% of California voters would vote for Feinstein next year, while 39% would not, though her overall job approval holds steady at a strong 46% - 31%. The downward trend is marked by a similar poll conducted last March that found her job approval rating at 48% and disapproval at 33%.
The survey highlights a dramatic drop in support from previous pre-election years where the percentage of voters who approved of Feinstein's job was higher than those who disapproved by double-digits.
That a historically popular Golden State politician finds herself on wobbly footing a year before the election is yet another example of a growing climate of uneasiness among voters who increasingly tell pollsters they view the country as headed in the wrong direction. It's also more evidence suggesting that a stalled recovery and recalcitrant unemployment rate could be a threat to Democratic control of the senate.
Amidst legislative gridlock in Washington and an ever-looming debt ceiling vote confrontation between lawmakers and the White House, Democrats are having trouble conveying an effective jobs message to constituents back home, Feinstein explained.
"I think 3000 miles away people have a hard time understanding the debt and deficit .... in the government," she said. "I'm very optimistic, so you take it, you have good days and bad days."
Feinstein will face a similar re-election battle that her fellow Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer faced in 2010, only this time the political environment is much less favorable. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina unsuccessfully challenged Boxer on a pro-growth, pro-business message, a type of candidate that the GOP will almost certainly be pushing forward again in 2012, and one that may be a considerably stronger messenger given the weak economy this time around.
Overhearing TPM's conversation with Feinstein, a nearby Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) jokingly shouted out another potential reason Californians were less than enthusiastic with her record.
"Don't forget the theft of Arizona's water!"
An agreement struck 40 years ago between Arizona and California stipulates that in exchange for its aid in the construction of a canal on the Colorado River, California would be guaranteed full water access in the event of any future shortage.