U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in Santa Monica, Calif., on September 2, 2015. Lawrence K. Ho TNS
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in Santa Monica, Calif., on September 2, 2015. Lawrence K. Ho TNS

Capitol Alert

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Capitol Alert

Californians want to resist Trump, but like Feinstein’s decades of experience

By Christopher Cadelago

ccadelago@sacbee.com

November 30, 2017 09:00 PM

UPDATED December 01, 2017 11:09 AM

California voters by a strong majority say single-payer healthcare is very important to them.

A new survey also found about half of likely voters, 51 percent, prefer that statewide candidates push back against the Trump administration, while 41 percent want California leaders to work with the White House.

The answers seem to form a basis for state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s insurgent challenge to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He’s a fellow Democrat who has sought to highlight his support for universal, government-run healthcare along with his strident resistance to Trump.

But if those responses provide encouragement to de León’s supporters, another should give them pause: The survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found most Democrats (55 percent) say experience and a proven record are more important attributes for those running statewide than new ideas and a different approach.

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Feinstein’s positions befit her measured style. She’s warned about the “enormous” cost of single-payer healthcare and said Trump can be a good president if he can learn and change.

The generational clash between the 84-year-old incumbent and de León, 50, is among a pair of marquee match-ups on next year’s statewide ballot, the other being the gubernatorial race. With outreach to voters yet to begin, the better-known Feinstein leads de León, 45 percent to 21 percent, with a third of voters still undecided, according to the same PPIC poll.

Among Democrats, Feinstein leads 66 percent to 16 percent, and half of the likely voters have a favorable opinion of her, while 48 percent have never heard of de León.

Some other results of the wide-ranging poll:

▪ Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, at 23 percent, continues to lead the field to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown next year, followed by two Democrats, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (18 percent) and Treasurer John Chiang (9 percent).

Republican John Cox was also at 9 percent, GOP Assemblyman Travis Allen at 6 percent and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, a Democrat, at 3 percent.

▪ 54 percent say repealing the recently enacted increase in the gas tax is very important to them. Republican likely voters (85 percent) are far more likely than independents (46 percent) or Democrats (36 percent) to feel that way.

▪ Democratic likely voters (58 percent) are more likely than independents (42 percent) and Republicans (37 percent) to say that a state bond for affordable housing is very important to them.

▪ Fewer than 1 in 5 likely voters consider expanding the size of the legislature to be very important. Cox’s gubernatorial run is closely tied to such a proposed measure, which he argues will make elected officials more accountable to their constituents.

▪ 60 percent see the state’s top-two primary system, which allows two candidates from the same party to advance to the fall runoff, as mostly a good thing.

▪ 62 percent oppose congressional Republicans’ tax reform proposals, including one that would add $1 trillion to the national deficit over a 10-year period.

▪ 64 percent say both parties do such a poor job that a third major party is needed. Overall, about half of Californians have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party and a quarter view the Republican Party favorably, similar to their registration breakdowns.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago