by Joshua Pinho
It’s no secret Nancy Pelosi has been having a rough month, and a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released today isn’t likely to make her feel much better.
Although the poll does show that a plurality Democrat voters — 41 percent — want Pelosi to stay on leader of the House Democrats, over a quarter of voters now say they would like her to be replaced. This is in addition to 31 percent who are unsure — far from a resounding vote of confidence in the former House Speaker.
And while Pelosi’s favorability rating among Democrats remains positive, with 49 percent of those polled saying they viewed her favorably, her popularity among other voters has fallen to abysmal levels. With ever important independents, Pelosi’s favorability is underwater by a whopping 32 points — not far behind her standing among Republicans (-42 favorability). It seems that while Democrats appear to be relatively content with Pelosi’s leadership, that view is out of step with the independent voters they’re trying to woo. The poll also notes that there is “an enthusiasm gap” as “Republicans’ negative feelings toward Pelosi are more intense than Democrats’ positive opinions.”
This new poll follows a string of losses suffered by House Democrats in special elections in Kansas, Montana, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Georgia race is especially interesting as GOP groups reportedly “spent millions of dollars on TV ads tying Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to [Nancy] Pelosi” — a strategy Politico is quick to note has been a highly effective tactic for Republicans since 2010. The Georgia defeat, combined with the others, have led to renewed calls for the replacement of Pelosi and have spurred Democratic members of Congress to, in some cases, publicly express their displeasure with their party’s leadership.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), for example, reportedly told “Morning Joe,” “[Pelosi’s] time has come and gone,” and went on to say, “The rationale for getting new leadership is we are losing and we have been losing since 2010 — that’s it.” In the same vein, Politico recently reported on a private, closed-door meeting of a group of Democratic congressmen — the agenda of which was to discuss alternatives to Pelosi:
At least a dozen Democrats attended the confab including Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (La.), Tony Cardenas (Calif.), a member of House Democratic leadership, and Reps. Ami Bera (Calif.), Filemon Vela (Texas), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) and Del. Stacey Plaskett (V.I.).
After that meeting, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who many consider to be one of a few rising stars in the Democratic Party, told Politico:
“The takeaway from the meeting is that we want to win again in 2018,” Moulton said, noting he’s seen a shift in the caucus since Pelosi won her leadership race last year. “I think people see the stakes more clearly.”
All eyes are clearly on the 2018 midterms — and, in fact, gearing up for his challenge against Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Democrat Joe Cunningham tweeted:
The Democratic Party needs new leadership now. If elected, I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Time to move forward and win again.
— Joe Cunningham (@JoeCunninghamSC) June 21, 2017
Perhaps Cunningham is hoping to avoid the “San Francisco’s Congressman” ads that appear to have been relatively successful in Rep. Karen Handel’s defeat of Jon Ossoff in Georgia.
Evidently there is a considerable split among Democrats, both voters and elected officials, over Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. Based on the polling, she is unpopular with independents, and the GOP has found a winning strategy by running against her in congressional races. As long as this status quo holds, it seems highly likely that Pelosi’s days as head of the House Democrats are numbered.
Photo credit: US Department of Labor via Flickr, CC BY 2.0