Half of Americans say Dianne Feinstein's health and age severely limit her ability to serve

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
June 07, 2023, 6:50 PM GMT+0

New polling by the Economist/YouGov asked Americans how, if at all, the health and age of the country's four oldest senators — as well as President Joe Biden — affect their ability to perform the jobs required of them.

Many Americans are concerned about Biden’s health and age (he is 80): 45% say it severely affects his ability to do the job of president. Opinion is partisan: 77% of Republicans and only 13% of Democrats say it is a severe limitation for Biden.

Party differences either are smaller or don't exist when it comes to evaluating the four oldest senators currently in office. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, 89, is the oldest serving senator. Half (50%) of Americans, including 42% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans, say her age and health — she had shingles recently — are severely affecting her ability to serve in the Senate; only 6% say they have no effect. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is also 89, but far fewer Americans (18%) believe he is limited by his health and age. This is in part because more are unsure about him than about Feinstein (47% vs. 30%).

On the ability of Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who is 81, to do his job, 11% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans say his age and health severely limit it. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also 81, is thought to be severely limited by his health and age by 28% of Americans, including 26% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans.

Related: Two-thirds of Democrats say Dianne Feinstein should resign from the Senate

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on June 3 - 6, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Chip Somodevilla)