Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting more colorful with her language as we move closer to the presumed inauguration of Joe Biden in January. Now that the stimulus bill has passed, the claws are coming out. According to Politico over the weekend, she told her leadership staff, “I’m counting down the hours ‘til he’s gone. I plan to pull him out of there by his hair, his little hands and his feet.”
Oh, Nana. It might behoove you to reflect on your own current popularity. After barely maintaining her majority in the House, Pelosi was once again nominated to serve as Speaker next term. However, there is a not-so-insignificant portion of Americans who think her time is past. Even among Democrats, she holds a slim majority of support.
According to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, 56% of all voters think the Democrats should find a new leader. With only 31% affirmatively saying Pelosi should remain the Speaker, she is far less popular than President Trump, who reportedly received 47% of the popular vote. She may want to hold on to her own coiffed hairdo.
Among Democrat voters, her support is a slight majority. Only 53% say she should keep the position while 33% would like to see someone else. The progressive wing of the party, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been outspoken about needing new leadership. And it looks like the jockeying is set to begin as Pelosi enters what is likely a full two years of lame-duck leadership.
Technically, Pelosi hinted that her final term as Speaker started in 2018, saying she would abide by the term-limit agreement proposed for the top three positions in the caucus. Instead, Pelosi reportedly brokered a deal to limit her tenure to four more years to satisfy House members who actively opposed her in 2018.
We can all hope she won’t have the opportunity—if Democrats lose the majority in 2022. But even if they don’t, Pelosi has commented that she will honor the 2018 bargain. With a slim House majority, maybe it will be so miserable she will go back to Napa and drown her sorrows in premium chocolate ice cream and leave the House altogether.
It’s unclear who could even emerge from the current civil war within the Democrat Party to lead it in two years. Progressives think Pelosi has been too timid on their big socialist agenda, and moderates are furious Pelosi has been unable to bring the radicals under control. A post-election call with congressional Democrats highlighted these divisions.
The progressive wing is full of activists who are incapable of compromise. Most of them are also very inexperienced and in no way suited to a leadership role. However, they also get the most airtime. The moderate wing’s best strategist, Representative Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), stepped down as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after the losses in 2020. She had engineered the strategy and won the seats in moderate districts that earned Pelosi the majority in 2018.
The dumbest thing Pelosi did was not give Bustos complete reign over the 2020 cycle. Instead, Pelosi let the radical wing set the agenda and interfere with the strategy Bustos set. I asserted that Bustos was the most dangerous Democrat you’d never heard of in 2019. Her recruitment and strategy in Texas was terrifying. The party’s loudest wing burned her well-laid electoral plans to the ground by November of 2020.
How the Democrats’ Burn-It-All-Down Caucus will approach a new term remains to be seen. If they decide to push Biden too far left and repeat the mistakes made in 2009 and 2010, it does not bode well for them. Most Americans are not seeking sweeping changes and will make that known at the ballot box. And after this term, Democrats may have a significant leadership gap.