Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi could soon face the most challenging test of her grip on power since becoming a household name some 15 years ago. The longtime California congresswoman, who made history in 2007 by becoming the first woman elected as speaker of the House, has expressed her desire to wield the gavel once again when her party takes over the House of Representatives in January — but her new campaign is already facing obstacles.
In addition to facing resistance from a fresh crop of Democrats, who have said on the record that they intend to oppose her in a new call for leadership, an anti-Pelosi rebellion is being again lead by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Filemon Vela (D-Texas). The pair of returning Democrats is continuing a previous effort to end Pelosi's leadership of the caucus, and they have suggested they have enough support to cause a major shake-up — despite Pelosi's confidence that she will garner the necessary support to reclaim the speaker's gavel.
The Democratic Caucus holds its leadership elections on Nov. 28. Pelosi will need to win a simple majority of support within the caucus to win be nominated as speaker — a threshold she is virtually assured to meet, especially since no one is currently formally challenging her. She will then need the support of the entire chamber — 218 members, if everyone is present and voting — to come out on top in a floor vote.
In addition to mounting opposition, a new Monmouth University poll published Wednesday reveals just 17 percent of Americans think House Democrats should elect Pelosi as the next speaker, while 45 percent said Democrats should elect someone else. Another 38 percent had no opinion. Those who do not want to see Pelosi elected speaker predictably varies by party, but 36 percent — not an insignificant number — of Democrats said they prefer someone else to wield the speaker's gavel, according to the poll, while 23 percent of Democrats support Pelosi and 41 percent of Democrats had no opinion.
In addition, only 17 percent of Americans said they think Pelosi is doing a good job as House minority leader, while 38 percent disapprove and 45 percent had no opinion. Among Republicans, 72 percent disapprove of the job Pelosi is doing, while just 5 percent approve and 23 percent have no opinion.
"There was controversy during the 2018 midterms as some Democratic candidates took pains to distance themselves from Pelosi," Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. "There continues to be some ambivalence among Democratic voters about her return to the speaker’s chair."
The Monmouth University Poll of 802 adults in the U.S. was conducted by telephone from Nov. 9 through Nov. 12, just days after Election Day. The margin of error for total respondents is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.