Nancy Pelosi Facing Opposition In Bid To Return As Speaker Of The House

With their House majority secure, Democrats must now select their leadership team for the next two years. It's not going smoothly.

With the Democratic Party now getting ready to take back control of the House in January, current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is moving to solidify her position ahead of leadership elections:

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is moving aggressively to snuff out a challenge from some lawmakers who are demanding new party leadership, while powerful allies outside Congress are helping rally support for her bid for speaker.

Pelosi has yet to clinch the necessary votes and is leaving nothing to chance, according to members and aides familiar with her approach. She is encouraging outside groups to speak up on her behalf while personally talking to the Democrats who will choose the next speaker on Jan. 3.

The organizations represent key parts of the Democratic coalition — bedrock sources of fundraising dollars, campaign muscle and votes — and have significant sway with incumbents and the newly elected.

Emily’s List, which supported virtually every female Democratic House candidate, has made calls to incoming lawmakers to tout Pelosi’s credentials, according to a person familiar with the effort. The leaders of two major unions — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers — sent letters Monday declaring their support.

“When you look at the situation right now, today,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the teachers union, “there is no candidate that is better than Nancy Pelosi. Unequivocally, we support her.”

Those declarations are meant to defuse the brewing challenge to the 78-year-old Californialawmaker’s return as speaker — one coming from a small but insistent group of sitting and incoming lawmakers who say that the party needs new leadership.

Pelosi, the current House minority leader, is expected to easily win an internal party nomination vote scheduled for the end of the month, but she would then need to win a majority of the House in a January floor vote to become speaker.

At least eight sitting members have signaled they will not vote for her in that scenario, and at least four incoming freshmen have said the same — such as Rep.-elect Max Rose (D-N.Y.), who said Monday he is looking for another candidate to step forward.

“I am not voting for her — no if, ands or buts, under any circumstances,” Rose told Fox News.

A dozen other incoming freshmen have called generally for new leadership without saying specifically that they will oppose Pelosi in a floor vote.

The pressure will be intense for weeks. Three incoming Democrats from deep-blue districts who called for new leadership during their campaigns — Massachusetts’s Ayanna Pressley, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — all declined to respond to a question about Pelosi after a training session Monday organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“Do you know who’s running?” Tlaib asked wryly before heading into another meeting.

The size of the Democratic majority is in flux, with votes still being counted in uncalled races, but it could range from 13 to 16 seats — giving Pelosi a thin margin of error.

With the first vote on leadership just weeks away, some Democrats see their party in the same position Republicans were in just a few years ago:

Insurgent lawmakers, unyielding despite pressure from their own party, spurn leaders in an open show of defiance on the national stage.

Democrats have seen this scenario too many times on the Republican side, and as they eagerly look ahead to controlling the House, they see echoes of the GOP’s internal strife in a brewing effort in their own ranks to block Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) from becoming speaker.

The Democratic dissidents are so far nowhere near as well organized as the House Freedom Caucus, the roughly three dozen conservative hard-liners who frustrated the GOP leadership and blocked legislation, but they are threatening to use similar tactics.

Pelosi’s opponents are threatening to withhold their votes on the House floor even after an anticipated party vote nominating her as the next speaker. That is a page straight out of the Freedom Caucus playbook — used to deny Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) the speakership in 2015.

Top Democrats are warning rank-and-file members not to go down that road, underscoring a growing backlash to the anti-
Pelosi faction.

“I’ll ask everybody to take a look at the so-called Freedom Caucus and see where they got the Republican Party,” Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Tuesday. “I think they’re the ones that got them into the shape they’re in now.”

The warnings come barely a week after Democrats won a sweeping victory in the midterm elections that put them in position to elect a speaker and claim committee gavels in January for the first time since 2007. While votes are still being counted, Democrats are on track to win anywhere from 35 to 40 seats — their biggest single pickup since the post-Watergate election of 1974.

(…)

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a leader of the anti-Pelosi faction, rejected the GOP comparisons. ”The Freedom Caucus is trying to break government,” he said. ”We’re just trying to get new leadership.”

A critical test may come later this week as Democrats consider an internal rule change to raise the threshold vote for nominating a speaker candidate from a simple majority to 218 votes. The change is expected to fail, in a boost for Pelosi.

In 2015, the Freedom Caucus played a key role in forcing out Republican Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) by threatening to call a vote on his removal. Rather than put vulnerable lawmakers in a difficult spot, Boehner quit.

McCarthy, as the No. 2 leader, was the obvious heir apparent, but conservative hard-liners saw him as too much like Boehner — an establishment-minded operator without a strong interest in conservative policy. So they coalesced behind a stalking horse, Rep. Daniel Webster (Fla.), and promised as a bloc to stick with him — thus denying McCarthy the absolute majority he would need on the House floor.

Less than 24 hours later, McCarthy withdrew his speaker bid, and the Freedom Caucus was emboldened to make demand after demand under the compromise choice, Paul D. Ryan (Wis.).

“Different principles, but in terms of the tactics . . . you can really make a difference,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (Ohio), a Freedom Caucus member who saw a resemblance between his group and the anti-Pelosi faction.

The Democrats who are plotting against Pelosi base their objections almost entirely on politics, not ideology or policy.

Where the conservatives wanted their leaders to adopt tough positions on issues such as immigration and government spending, the Democrats mainly want Pelosi to move on, fearing she is a drag on candidates in competitive districts. Meanwhile, longtime incumbents are eager to move up the leadership ladder.

Pelosi and her team are also facing a smaller challenge from more moderate Democrats:

Nine centrist House Democrats are throwing another hurdle in the path of top party leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as she sprints toward the speaker’s gavel.

It’s not an unexpected obstacle: The nine are members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group formed to promote bipartisanship whose members agreed in September to condition their votes for any speaker candidate on support for a package of rules changes meant to improve how the House operates.

In a letter sent to Pelosi on Tuesday, the nine Democrats reiterated that their speaker votes are on the line and asked for a “written, public commitment” to their proposals by Friday.

“Our constituents and our democracy deserve better,” they wrote. “Put simply, they want us to govern again.”

The reforms range from making it easier to get amendment votes to ending the ability of a single disgruntled lawmaker to force a vote on ousting a sitting speaker. The centerpieces of the effort are mechanisms that would streamline the process of considering bills with broad bipartisan support on the House floor — at the price of eroding the power of the majority party’s leadership to control what gets put up for a vote.

Signing the letter are Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.) and Vicente Gonzalez (Tex.).

“The motivating purpose of all this is to get things done and to actually be able to work together and do things differently than we’ve been doing,” Gottheimer, a co-chairman of the caucus, said in an interview.

The Problem Solvers, whose efficacy has been in question, could represent more of a speed bump than a roadblock for Pelosi, who is facing a more serious uprising from a group of Democratic incumbents and incoming freshmen who are demanding new party leadership.

As of right now, there is no formal opposition to Pelosi or any of the other members of the House Leadership Team such as Steny Hoyer, who currently serves as Minority Whip and would stand to become Majority Leader if Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House again, and James Clyburn, who currently serves as Assistant Minority Leader and would be a top candidate for Majority Whip under Pelosi and Hoyer. Neither Hoyer nor Clyburn have given any indication that they would consider in challenging Pelosi for the Speakership, and there haven’t been any indications of any serious challenges to either Hoyer or Clyburn at this time. That being said, if it becomes clear that Pelosi (along with Hoyer and Clyburn) is having difficulty putting together the majority she would need both inside the Democratic Caucus later this month and on the House floor in January then that could lead others to throw their hats into the ring. Even if these alternative candidates don’t end up defeating Pelosi and her team, just the fact that there would be a fight could sour the win that Democrats scored last Tuesday. Additionally, the prospect of a challenge inside the caucus, even if it fails in the vote at the end of the month, could pose problems for Pelosi heading into the official vote in January.

Part of the reason that Pelosi appears to be facing problems is that it appears that the Republican effort to use her to rally its own base and to effectively demonize her seems to have had at least some impact on candidates who had to cater to the center to win their districts. Additionally, many of the new members of Congress who represent the Democratic Party’s so-called “progressives” appear to object to Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn largely because they believe the party needs new blood at the top of the Caucus. This is why Pelosi is facing most of her opposition not from middle-of-the-road mainstream Democrats but from the “progressive” left, especially from newly elected Members of Congress coming from that wing of the party. For this group, the main problem with the current leadership isn’t that they are too far left, it’s that they aren’t far left enough and that they aren’t committing to using the party’s control of the House to pursue both a “progressive” legislative agenda that would inevitably die in the Republican-controlled Senate but also to commit to the idea of impeachment, even though it’s not clear that grounds exist and it’s rather obvious that the Senate would treat such an act the same way they did when Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1867 and Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998.

In the end, I expect that Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn will beat back this challenge and end up being easily elected. However, the fact that there’s even a controversy could portend problems in the years to come.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    OK…so wild hypothetical.
    Should Mueller take down both Dennison and Pence, Pelosi would be POTUS.
    Just sayin’

  2. Kathy says:

    Impeachment without the votes to convict might wind up helping Dennison get reelected. Unless a case can be made for truly egregious crimes that would turn even his base against him. But that’s about as likely as flying by flapping your arms.

  3. al Ameda says:

    Additionally, many of the new members of Congress who represent the Democratic Party’s so-called “progressives” appear to object to Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn largely because they believe the party needs new blood at the top of the Caucus. This is why Pelosi is facing most of her opposition not from middle-of-the-road mainstream Democrats but from the “progressive” left, especially from newly elected Members of Congress coming from that wing of the party.

    Honestly, Nancy Pelosi is a pragmatist, an old-school count-the-votes politician, and she’s a middle of the road liberal.

    The biggest problems she has now are: (1) her age, 78, (2) she’s associated with the catastrophic Republican gain in control during the Obama years, and (3) Republicans have, as they did with Hillary Clinton, defined her as Satan’s wife, she’s become a pejorative, even to some members of her Party.

    As for me? I’ve met Pelosi twice (brief meet-and-greets at a non-profit here in San Francisco), she pays attention to constituents, and she’s somewhat intense. I’m generally with her on many policy issues, but …. it is time for a leadership change among Democrats in both the Senate and The House.

    Not sure who the new players are but how about someone under the age of 70? Hoyer is 79, Pelosi is 78 … Democratic Party congressional leadership is ossified, time to change.

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  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    Out of principle, I want a younger generation of leadership to take charge. If that means keeping Pelosi but clearing out the rest of the leadership team (especially Steny) I’m ok with it.

    All that said, love or hate her House Democrats can make a substantive case for Pelosi’s leadership skills.

    Can anyone make the case that Schumer has been an effective opposition leader?

    Related: Senate Dems have confirmed Schumer as the minority leader.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @al Ameda: Your number 3 is the biggie, that Rs have demonized her. Ds can’t let Rs select their leaders and candidates. It’s going to be a tough two years. Trump will be under legal challenge and going nuts. (Which is probably a better outcome than impeachment and Pence.) McConnell will be doing his best to allow nothing. The only thing bipartisan about McConnell will be his effort to blame Ds for everything. I don’t have a problem with having an experienced Speaker who’s proven her effectiveness, whatever her age.

    And if we get lucky and lose Trumpsky and Pence, we could do a lot worse than President Pelosi. Kevin Drum did a thing a couple days ago ranking Pelosi left to right. She’s pretty damn liberal, especially given the constraints of her leadership position.

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  6. PJ says:

    The Speaker of the House doesn’t not need to be a Representative.
    Democrats should pick Obama.
    (Doing that would make Chuck Grassley President if both tRump and Pence got impeached and removed…)

    More seriously.

    I’d pick Pelosi over a generic Democratic Representative. Lets see who challenges her and I might change my mind about my preference.

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  7. just nutha says:

    The biggest problems she has now are: (1) her age, 78, (2) she’s associated with the catastrophic Republican gain in control during the Obama years, and (3) Republicans have, as they did with Hillary Clinton, defined her as Satan’s wife, she’s become a pejorative, even to some members of her Party.

    For me, her age and the number of years in power are the biggest issue, but I’m more amenable to management changes in political settings than most.

    Ds can’t let Rs select their leaders and candidates.

    This is the counterargument to point 2 and, especially, 3 above. Sadly, it’s possible that she’s still the best option, in which case, the Dems need to start grooming the next generation of house leadership. Sooner rather than later.

    … and going nuts. (Which is probably a better outcome than impeachment and Pence.)

    This is really important, in my mind at least. The Right needs to spectacularly crash in the same sense that the Left did a generation or so back. For that to happen, Trump needs to stay in to maximize the damage to the GOP and to conservative political philosophy.

    On the other side, if the only problem with conservatism is that Trump is crude and boorish, then it hasn’t become ugly and destructive enough and needs to spiral down more. Pence isn’t repulsive enough to carry that load. Either way, the nation has a problem with the right wing having shifted too far into craziness. That will need to be addressed before anything can get better.

  8. de stijl says:

    @al Ameda:

    Honestly, Nancy Pelosi is a pragmatist, an old-school count-the-votes politician, and she’s a middle of the road liberal.

    As Majority Leader, she was quite effective. Getting Obamacare through the House was a tough road, and she got it done. I like the name “Nancy Smash!” She was actually pretty good at getting legislation through a very contentious caucus and maniacal opposition at that time.

    The biggest problems she has now are: (1) her age, 78, (2) she’s associated with the catastrophic Republican gain in control during the Obama years, and (3) Republicans have, as they did with Hillary Clinton, defined her as Satan’s wife, she’s become a pejorative, even to some members of her Party.

    1. Not her problem
    2. That’s just BS
    3. Also, not her problem. And there’s not anything she can do would subvert that perception.

    Nearly every local R political ad in the run-up used Pelosi as a scary avatar and warned us that Candidate X will side with Pelosi and eliminate ICE and tax us to death and throw open our borders and fund MS-13 gangs with Soros’ money and abort toddlers for fun and basically put old white people into concentration camps for re-education or the gas-chamber if the re-education failed to take. It was ludicrous.

    As Leader, she did quite well during her time and the issues she faced. And I appreciate her approach of “I will be the new Majority Leader until we determine who will succeed me in 2019.”

    Who should be the next D Leader? No idea. But I do prefer a old-school vote counter who has the right sense to pick a competent party whip. Bright-eyed, idealistic folks can be the voice of the party, but the backbone needs to be sturdy.

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  9. de stijl says:

    @just nutha:

    Either way, the nation has a problem with the right wing having shifted too far into craziness. That will need to be addressed before anything can get better.

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    We have a political problem in America.

    One of our political parties went very far off the rails and is venturing further every day.

    And the likelihood that this will self-correct due to internal Party pressures is zero.

    The way to get ahead if you are an R is to be a total belligerent dick and completely buy in to the whole package – and then push that package even more to the Right with inflammatory rhetoric. Even though you’re waaaay to the Right of the electorate.

    This is a big issue that we have to resolve. Gingrich started this mess.

    We have to solve this or we’re fvcked.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: If Trump and Pence were standing together one day and a boulder came out of the sky and squashed them both, then yes, Pelosi (or whoever was Speaker) would become President.

    Realistically, though, that ain’t never going to happen. 67 Senators (which at this point would have to include at least 20 Republicans) are not going to vote for a President Pelosi or any other Democratic Speaker—no matter what Mueller’s report reveals.

    If there was evidence of criminal wrongdoing on both Trump’s and Pence’s part, and the evidence was so overwhelming the GOP decided that sticking by them was becoming a liability (and I again emphasize that I find this scenario almost impossible to imagine in the current climate), they wouldn’t have to get rid of them at the same time. There’d be a chance to appoint a new Republican vp, like Nixon did with Ford, and if the Dems simply refused to allow it, that would simply make it even less likely the Repubs would opt for removing both Trump and Pence.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kylopod:

    no matter what Mueller’s report reveals

    Whilst I tend to agree…I am beginning to think Mueller has a blockbuster going.
    There is a point where Republicans just will not be able to ignore it. That said, it may not take Pence with it. Time will tell.

  12. just nutha says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: If you wish into one hand and s[pit] into the other, I can predict with 99.7% accuracy which hand will fill up first.

    I would say 100%, but there is a statistical possibility for the wish hand.

  13. Tyrell says:

    An uniformed source is saying that Representative Pelosi has warned any Democratic representatives who do not vote for her as the speaker will be facing the ultimate: forty five minutes of her fingernail screeching on a chalkboard!

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  14. Kathy says:

    You know what might be a good Democratic strategy? stating publicly, on the record, and often that they plan no impeachment at all, while at the same time leaking details on how an impeachment proceeding might develop.

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  15. Scott says:

    Pelosi is just too good at what she does to change her out for someone less experienced. She knows where the bodies are buried and knows what weapons to use. Besides, Trump is afraid of powerful women. I do think a case can be made for new blood in the leadership team and for some kind of succession plan. Put the right people in charge of committees and make them prove themselves.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: What sort of uniform did the source have on? Mall Security? Fast Food? Sporting team? Or were you trying for “uninformed?”

  17. Tyrell says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Tricycle Safety Inspector.

  18. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @gVOR08: The whole “Let Republicans select Dem leaders…” line of reasoning is nonsense. Republican branding of Pelosi sticks–like it did to Hillary Clinton–because neither she nor Clinton is personally likeable enough nor proficient enough in linguistics to defend themselves.

    The “leader” of political organization ought to have this basic level of skills. Its part of the reasons why Democrats can’t win so much as a race for Dog Catcher is a rural area. It starts at the Top.

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  19. Jim Brown 32 says:

    This thread alone is prime evidence of why Dems lost all 3 branches of gov’t in 16 and only have barely a majority in a time where the Republican party has gone full ‘Tard.

    YOUR PARTY HAS OUTDATED MESSAGING—PUSHED BY OUTDATED LEADERSHIP

    How else would Trump sneak up on the Party using FB advertising? The “Smart” party could have taken advantage of that platform several election cycles ago. What’s the next information age platform that can be exploited to bring in new voter? 80 year olds aren’t going to be to tell you that’s for sure. Democrats always talk about the youth vote–that never materializes–why? They certainly show up to other events.

    Ordinarily, age and experience are positives–not in this period of time. The speed of technology and culture has left all but a few of the intellectually curious over the age of 60 in the rearview mirror. There is a mountain of untapped voters that the Democrats can’t connect with because they are messaging voter demographics from the 1990s. A Pelosi win is a bell weather that the Party has not adapted to current realities.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    So…who is the alternative to Pelosi? And I find it interesting that two of the biggest reasons why so many don’t like her (too old and too unlikeable), apply equally, if not more so, to the majority leader in the Senate, and yet, he keeps crawling along…funny, that…I do wonder how much misogyny is involved with all of this…is there any elderly female leader in this country that a lot of people actually liked…

  21. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @An Interested Party: Mitch McConnell made a play that subtracted 1 democrat SCOTUS appointment and add 2 Conservative appointments to that same court. We won’t even mention the lower courts he’s stacking up young conservative judges in like cord wood.

    Why should he be asked to step aside? He’s doing his job and riding a string of republican victories.

    Meanwhile, in Dem lala land where accountability is offensive…You have another leadership team who’s high water mark so far against the biggest buffoon in Presidential history is a paltry +30 advantage in the house. And this the heels of an incredibly popular 2-term President. If her team were winning…no one would care that she’s old and unlikable. The aren’t winning however…and in any other winning organization…leadership would be asked to step aside.

    Why does your team enjoy losing and moral victories so much? Isn’t it time to play to win? For starters….to ask who is Pelosi’ s alternative is to discount people simply on the basis of name recognition. There are 200+ Dem house members…I’m sure several of them have the intelligence and skills to make a great speaker. Pelosi should be that person’s mentor. Great leaders tend to grooming young talent. Selfish ones typically stiffle it.

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  22. de stijl says:

    Mitch McConnell literally does not have a chin. And people just ignore that fact.

    I blame institutional patriarchy.

    Mitch McConnell is 76. Pelosi is 78. No one ever dings McConnell because he is too old. I was being hyperbolic above, but there is truth there – institutional patriarchy is a real thing.

  23. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    a paltry +30 advantage in the House

    Really, now? First of all, some of the races are still being called, but it looks like in the end the Dems will have enjoyed a net gain in the high 30s, possibly even the low 40s. It’s unquestionably the largest Democratic midterm seat gain since Watergate, and about twice as large as the average midterm seat gain for either party since that time (which according to my calculations is about 20 seats per midterm against the president’s party). And that’s regarding one of the most gerrymandered Houses in history, which Republicans after 2010 redrew specifically to make it as hard as possible for Dems to regain power. If you believe their failure to win 50, 60, 70 seats in this cycle is due to the weak leadership of Pelosi, you’re living in a fantasy world.

    How does that stack against McConnell? Under his leadership the GOP twice failed to capture the Senate (in 2010 and 2012) when it was well within their grasp, due to nominating awful candidates in key races (in 2012 the GOP ended up losing Senate seats despite entering election season viewed as favorites for capturing the chamber), and while McConnell didn’t support all those candidates, their rise had everything to do with a doubling down on extremism that he actively encouraged.

    And I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say he’s “riding a string of Republican victories.” Assuming Bill Nelson doesn’t win his recount and Mike Espy loses the upcoming runoff in Mississippi, that means the GOP enjoyed a net gain of exactly 1 Senate seat* during this cycle, in the most absurdly GOP-favorable Senate map in memory, where Dems had to defend seats in 10 states won by Donald Trump while Repubs only needed to defend 1 in a Clinton state. In normal times, Repubs could easily have acquired a supermajority through such a map. Instead, they failed to unseat Dems in 6 Trump states, including 2 that Trump won by double digits; they lost 3 Republican seats in Trump states, including one that hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator in 30 years; they came within 2 points of losing an incumbent Republican in deep-red Texas; and they didn’t come anywhere close to unseating a Dem in any Clinton state, not even one who’d just been indicted for corruption.

    Let me be clear: I’m not saying McConnell is a weak Senate leader. Far from it. I’m saying he’s a weak leader by the standards that you have used to judge Pelosi. But of course you’re measuring them by entirely different standards: you’re commenting on McConnell’s parliamentary skills while completely ignoring his (mixed at best) record on winning seats; with Pelosi you’re doing the exact opposite.

    *I’m including the special election in Alabama last year. Yes, that counts–if we’re evaluating McConnell’s record in this cycle.

  24. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    You need to get a job working for Nate Silver. You are seriously good at election analysis.

  25. Teve says:

    kevin drum:

    I’m very happy with the way the battle is going for Speaker of the House. I think the ideal outcome is (a) Nancy Pelosi wins, but (b) she has a hard enough time that it’s clear she needs to think about stepping down in 2020. So far, that’s how things are working out.

    I want Pelosi as Speaker because, by a mile, she’s the best legislative tactician Democrats have right now. She’s probably one of the most effective Speakers in history, and Democrats are going to need her skill and experience over the next two years. What’s more, there are really no other plausible candidates to replace her.

    However, she is 78 and she has been the Democratic leader for 15 years. This means the next two years really need to be about succession planning for a younger generation. I’m not even talking about Gen X here. I’m just talking about someone who was born after World War II.

    So that’s what I’m after. An agreement to keep Pelosi on, but with enough of a rebellion that Pelosi and her team are forced to recognize that they won’t survive the next one. So far, that seems to be about what’s happening.

  26. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: I have to use different standards. You and I know that the Republican party has descended into buffoonery not seen in an American political party since Pre-Civil war.

    No competent party should be playing catchup to these idiots. Seriously, this is like a Division 1 basketball team having to make a 30 point run against a Division 2 team to go up by 1 point at halftime. The point is — the Division 1 team shouldn’t even be in the position to have make a 30 point run in the first place. The 30 point run is impressive if made against comparable competition–its ridiculous if needed against a subpar opponent. So no–assuming there were an actual battle of valid ideas between Ds & Rs–Pelosi and leadership gets a break. That’s not the case…Republicans have no ideas–only grievance (and imagined ones at that). In that contact you have to give the Dem coaching staff a markdown for being unprepared and uncreative

  27. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32: That’s where we disagree. You’re not considering–or are overly dismissive of–other explanations for the shocking normalization of Trump. Part of it’s the mainstream media, with their tendency to reduce everything in politics to Yankees vs. Red Sox tribalism. But the #1 overriding reason is Republicans themselves. Trump currently has an 86% approval rating among members of his own party. His ratings among everyone else are in the toilet, but among Republicans they’re sky-high. Why is that? It’s because most Republican voters get most of their information from the closed loop of right-wing agitprop, and in that universe Trump is the unquestioned king.

    You really think anything Pelosi or other Democratic leaders do is going to change any of that? It’s hardly surprising they wouldn’t be making bigger gains than they did, or why they’d win close to 40 seats in the House while losing seats in the Senate. When you consider how bad the Senate terrain was for Dems, it’s amazing they did as well as they did, including keeping two seats and gaining one in ultra-red states where Trump is massively popular.

    In one sense Trump is doing unprecedentedly terribly. His approval ratings are not appreciably worse than Obama’s or Reagan’s at comparable points in their presidency. But they were suffering the effects of a terrible recession where unemployment was at about 10%. When the economy turned around, their popularity rose and they were both easily reelected. In contrast, Trump is presiding over a burgeoning economy, low unemployment, and is not involved in some hapless war like Bush in 2006. To my knowledge, no president presiding over this level of peace and prosperity has suffered a midterm anywhere near this bad. The relatively good conditions in the country right now make Trump’s political situation seem more “normal” than it actually is. As has been said repeatedly, if the economy goes into recession–as it’s long overdue for–it’s very likely the bottom will finally fall out from under Trump’s merely mediocre popularity.

  28. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Yes, I believe the ineptness of Democratic messaging, signaling, and decent from an actual “Big Tent” party is the primary reason Republican party Candidates automatically ink in 40% support in national & state elections—no mater who they are.

    Trump has high approval numbers of Republicans…he should…he’s a Republican that say thing Republicans like to hear. What he shouldn’t have– is the raw numbers of support (or at least tolerance) that he does. That’s on Dem Leadership’s shoulders.

    The Democratic Party is BTINO “Big Tent In Name Only”. I recently read an article about the State Dem party in a Midwestern state that tried to make a play for Pro-Life Republicans who wanted to disassociate themselves from their Party. The carnage within the dem party on whether to broaden their messaging to facilitate this migration was embarrassing.

    No, the Democratic Party (at least the way they message) is the Party of urban White women , women of color, LGBTQ, and Gov’t professional service workers. How is that a Big Tent? If Republicans weren’t so stupid, slight modification to their themes and signaling would bring in LOTS of Black men…who only side with Dems because Republicans appeal directly to the White Trash vote.

    You can’t claim the Big Tent mantels when large swaths of population are only associated with you because you’re less tolerable to the alternative. Dems need to fix their man messaging problems. Republicans enjoy a 70/30 advantage in white males support–too steep a number to hand wave away to racism, sexism, etc. That boat anchor is going to blunt any long range plans they might have. What happens when the Oranges Baboon isn’t in the ballot and Obama isn’t the Dem candidate? Dem charges of racist, sexist, etc will seem ludicrous in comparison. They. Will. Lose. Again

  29. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I actually agree that Dems have had a messaging problem. But first of all, messaging is not a Congressional leader’s primary role. Second, for the most part the messaging by Dem candidates in this cycle wasn’t shouting about racism and sexism, it was sticking to bread and butter issues like health care, taxes, and wages. It was Republicans who were most eager to talk about a caravan of brown people, MS-13 gangs, sanctuary cities, and so on.