Schiff and Porter Lead Field to Replace Sen. Feinstein, However Plurality of Voters Undecided

A new Emerson College Polling/Inside California Politics survey of California voters finds a majority (63%) of voters think Senator Dianne Feinstein should resign from her position, allowing Governor Newsom to appoint a successor to complete the remainder of Feinstein’s term. Thirty-seven percent think Senator Feinstein should remain in her seat, finishing her term in office in 2024. 

Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said: “Older voters are more likely than younger voters to say Feinstein should resign: 68% of voters over 50 think the Senator should resign compared to 58% of voters under 50 who say the same.”

Senator Feinstein has a 22% approval rating among California voters; 48% disapprove of the job she is doing as Senator while 31% are neutral. Feinstein’s US Senate colleague Alex Padilla holds a 32% approval rating, while 23% disapprove of the job he is doing and 45% are neutral. 

Governor Gavin Newsom is the most popular statewide figure of the three, with a 45% approval and 39% disapproval. Sixteen percent are neutral.

When asked who voters supported for the March 2024 primary election for US Senate, a plurality (47%) are undecided. Fifteen percent support Rep. Adam Schiff, while 14% support Rep. Katie Porter, and 6% support Rep. Barbara Lee. 

“Registered Democratic voters are split between Schiff at 23% and Porter at 22%, while 10% support Lee; only 34% are undecided. By contrast, 60% of Republicans are undecided and 58% of independent voters are undecided,” Kimball noted. “Thirteen percent of Republicans support Republican candidate James Bradley and 8% support Republican Eric Early. Among Independents, 11% support Porter, 10% Schiff.”

Biden and Trump Lead Party Nominations; Voters Report Housing and Homelessness as Top Issues

Forty-four percent (44%) of voters approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing in office, while 40% disapprove and 17% are neutral. Vice President Kamala Harris holds a 37% job approval for her role, while 42% disapprove of the job Harris is doing and 21% are neutral. 

“President Biden’s highest approval continues to be among Black voters, 66% of whom approve of the job he is doing in office. This compares to 46% of Asian voters, 43% of White voters, and 40% of Hispanic voters,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling noted.

In the 2024 Democratic Presidential Primary, 72% support President Biden, while 17% support Robert Kennedy Jr., 7% support Marianne Williamson, and 5% support someone else. 

In the 2024 Republican presidential primary, 53% of Republicans plan to vote for former President Donald Trump, while 19% support Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 10% former Vice President Mike Pence, 6% support Nikki Haley, and 4% support Senator Tim Scott. 

“Trump’s base continues to be voters under 50 and those without a college degree, while DeSantis performs strongest among voters over 50 and those with a college degree, but still trails Trump,” Kimball said. “Trump leads DeSantis 60% to 14% among those under 50 compared to 49% to 21% among those over 50. Among voters without a college degree, Trump leads DeSantis 62% to 15%, compared to those with a college degree where he leads 46% to 25%.”

In a hypothetical match-up between Biden and Trump, Biden holds a 22-point lead, 54% to 32%. Ten percent would vote for someone else and 5% are undecided. Against DeSantis, Biden leads by 26-points, 54% to 28%. Ten percent are undecided and 8% would vote for someone else. 

“Trump outperforms DeSantis against Biden by four points among California voters, mirroring his margin of support compared to DeSantis in Iowa and the last Emerson national survey,” Kimball noted. 

A quarter of California voters (25%) find the economy to be the most important issue facing the state, while 17% find homelessness to be the most important issue, 16% housing affordability, 11% crime, 5% climate change, and 5% “threats to democracy.” 

Seventy-seven percent of voters think addressing the fentanyl crisis should be one of many priorities for the California legislature, while 17% think it should be the most important priority, and 6% think it should not be a priority. 

Ahead of the June 15 constitutional deadline for enacting a 2023-24 state budget, 80% of residents are very (39%) or somewhat (41%) concerned about the state budget deficit. Twenty percent are not too concerned (16%) or not at all concerned (4%). 

Last month, a California panel approved recommendations that could provide up to $1.2 millions in payments per Black resident to address past injustices. Half (50%) of California voters somewhat (13%) or strongly (37%) oppose the panel recommendation. Fifteen percent (15%) of voters strongly support the recommendation, while 13% somewhat support, and 22% are neutral. 


The Emerson College Polling/Inside California Politics poll was conducted June 4-7, 2023. The sample consisted of 1,056 registered California voters, with a credibility interval, similar to the poll’s margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by party affiliation, race and ethnicity, gender, region, and age based on 2024 turnout modeling. Turnout modeling is based on US Census parameters, and California voter registration and voter turnout data by regions (CA SOS). 

It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics, such as gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity, carry with them higher credibility intervals, as the sample size is reduced. Survey results should be understood within the poll’s range of scores, and know with a confidence interval of 95% a poll will fall outside the range of scores 1 in 20 times.

Data was collected by contacting cell phones via SMS-to-web data collection, emails, and an online panel. 

This survey was conducted by Emerson College Polling, and sponsored by Nexstar Media. All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results and cross tabulations can be found here.