Election 2014

House Democrats Ready to Blame Pelosi, Maybe, for Losses—Just Don't Blame the Message


Nancy Pelosi at San Fran World Series parade
Pelosi's office

Politico got enough House Democrats to state the obvious about Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's leadership vis a vis the midterm elections, where Democrats lost 12 seats in the House. Faced with two consecutive midterm losses in the lower chamber of Congress, Democrats are still uneasy blaming the message of the Democratic Party over the last six years and its messenger-in-chief, Barack Obama. Via Politico:

"The president is the president; we can't control him. Good, bad or indifferent. I think the Democratic Caucus, we can be loyal to the president, we can be part of the team, which we should to the best of our ability. But we need to focus more on middle-class issues," said Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts. "We now have lost three elections in a row based on those themes [health care, immigration, minimum wage, pay equity for women] — all of which I agree with, all of which I can run on in my district, they're fine — but middle-class Americans are not hearing that message. When was the last time the Democratic Caucus as a caucus — not individually — really talked about jobs? For me, we don't do that enough."

Democrats don't talk enough about jobs? It seems that's all anyone in the establishment, Democrat or Republican, talk about. Who doesn't have some kind of "Jobs Act"? They're not going to create jobs in any meaningful way because economic growth and government intervention are almost entirely mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Politico reports House Democrats are still most likely to blame President Obama, not Nancy Pelosi, and the "six year itch." This despite losses in 2010 and winning only 8 seats in 2012, a year Democrats insist they saw a mandate for President Obama and the 51.1 percent of voters he won in the election.

Pelosi is running unopposed for re-election as caucus leader. In 2010 she became the first Speaker to hold on to a leadership despite her party losing the House since Sam Rayburn stayed on in 1954. Rayburn had served two non-consecutive tenures as Speaker and would return to the position two years later, dying in office in 1961. Politico reports on some token opposition to Pelosi this time around and grumbling over her decision to remain in leadership:

A few Democrats — including some new members-elect such as Gwen Graham of Florida — are expected to vote against Pelosi on Tuesday, although the number of defections is still expected to be small. Pelosi has bristled at suggestions that it may be time for her to move on after a dozen years running the Democratic Caucus, dismissing questions about her age and ability.

Pelosi even told POLITICO that she might have thought about retiring if Democrats had won the House, but she needs to stay all the more because the party lost seats. That comment caused some eyes to roll in Democratic circles.

"If we had lost 30 or 40 seats, rather than the dozen we lost, then [Pelosi] would have said she's never leaving," joked one Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If we keep losing seats, she'll be here until she's 90."

Pelosi dismissed suggestions she should step down after House Democrats' losses in the midterm election by claiming the question was about age, and therefore sexist. She insisted nobody asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that question. McConnell will be taking over as Majority Leader for the first time after Republicans won control of the Senate in the midterms.