Republicans did their best to demonize House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and it didn’t work. Democrats took back the House, and in nearly all races, Pelosi simply wasn’t an issue. In a handful of close House races in deep-red districts, the Democratic challenger felt the need to take Pelosi off the table by pledging to vote for someone else for speaker. But only about a dozen of those candidates got elected.
Why did Republicans make such an issue of Pelosi? Because the is one of the most effective Democratic leaders ever, that’s why. She’s a superb strategist, and she managed to keep a fractious caucus together on key votes.
Not a single Democrat defected to vote for Trump’s tax cut, and Democrats were united in successfully resisting multiple GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act. There is also a measure of sexism and ageism in the Republican campaign against Pelosi.
Republicans dearly want someone with less experience and less strategic smarts to replace Pelosi. And that’s why Democrats, no dummies, will re-elect her by at least two-to-one.
In the 2018 campaign, Pelosi led her caucus to keep the focus on such winning issues as health care, Social Security, and jobs, and not to take Trump’s bait on divisive social issues. That strategy paid off handsomely. To get a sense of Pelosi, have a look at the masterful press conference she gave after the Democrats’ victory.
In 2016, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio challenged Pelosi for Democratic leader. His challenge lost, 134 to 63. This year’s prime challenger is Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Substantively, they don’t have much of a case other than their age and the vague sense that they are somehow more moderate and mainstream.
If you do the arithmetic, assume that the Democrats end up with about 235 House members, including at least 50 newly elected Democrats. Of these, only 11 have pledged to vote for someone else for speaker, and just five of those are women.
In addition, a record number of women were elected to the House this time, most of them Democrats. It’s hard to imagine very many women Democrats (beyond the five already on record to oppose her) voting to replace the highest ranking Democratic woman.
My guess is that the newly elected Democrats will split at least 60-40 for Pelosi, and that she will do at least as well as last time among returning members of the Democratic Caucus. Which means that she is re-elected speaker by a margin of at least two-to-one.
She surely deserves it.