Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both California Democrats, are two of the most well-liked senators in one of the safest states in the country for their party.
And their constituents would prefer that they be replaced.
A new poll from the University of Southern California shows that although Feinstein and Boxer have image ratings that are much more positive than negative (by double digits), about six in 10 Californians (59 percent) would prefer that they not seek reelection. Just three in 10 (29 percent) say they should run again.
Nearly half of Californians -- 48 percent -- say they "strongly" want new people to run. Even among Democrats, 44 percent say it's time for new blood, while 43 percent say the two senators should seek reelection.
Those are the kind of numbers usually reserved for unpopular incumbents in swing states. Feinstein and Boxer, though, have rarely been tested at the ballot box, and there is little to suggest that they've done anything to alienate the electorate.
At least part of the reason for the call for a changing of the guards is undoubtedly that Feinstein and Boxer are among the nation's oldest senators. Feinstein is the oldest senator, at 81, while Boxer, who is 73, ranks 16th.
The more likely reason, though, is that people just want new people in office, period. Feinstein and Boxer were both first elected in 1992, meaning they have been in the Senate as long as many Californians can remember. And although both are popular -- Boxer's favorable rating vs. unfavorable rating is 46 percent to 35 percent, while Feinstein's split is 48 percent to 32 percent -- there is clearly an appetite for fresh blood in a Washington that the vast majority of Americans don't see working.
And indeed, the wording of the question notes that both have been senators for 22 years -- a clause that probably stacked the deck against the "six more years" crowd.
But the question is still illustrative -- and not because Boxer or Feinstein would be particularly vulnerable if they ran for reelection in 2016 or 2018, respectively (California is still a safe state for Democrats and Boxer won by 10 points in 2010 despite being a top target of Republicans in a very strong GOP year). What it does say, though, is something pretty significant about the anti-Washington sentiment that exists in the country. When even popular incumbents are on the list of "bums" people want to throw out (or more accurately, throw themselves out by retiring), that's pretty remarkable.
As the 2016 presidential campaign prepares to get off the ground, look for an unprecedented premium being placed on not being "of Washington." Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) got at this a little bit on Sunday, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been barking up this tree for some time now -- most notably in a forceful 2013 State of the State speech.
As this poll in California shows, even the most well-liked politicians can suffer from too much association with the W-word.