Poll: Majority wants Pelosi out as House speaker

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Though Democrats’ House majority was nearly wiped out in last month’s election, the party appears poised to retain Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for a fourth, two-year stint as speaker next month.

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows most Democrats think she should keep the gavel, but a majority of voters oppose Pelosi staying on as speaker. Only 31 percent of all voters think Pelosi should be elected as speaker when the new Congress begins, while 56 percent think she should not.

But self-identified Democrats say the first woman House speaker should stay on by a 20-point margin, 53 percent to 33 percent.

The election of the speaker is one of the first tasks for the House when it reconvenes on Jan. 3, but the shrunken Democratic majority — Republicans’ net gain in November currently stands at 10 seats and could swell to a dozen, depending on the disposition of two still-uncalled races — has threatened Pelosi’s position.

When Democrats assumed control of the House two years ago, 15 Democratic members defected from Pelosi, choosing another individual or voting “present” during the speakership vote. Of those, 10 are returning members of the Democratic caucus, and Pelosi will only be able to lose a handful of votes to clinch the speakership this time, depending on how many members show up.

Still, no other Democratic member has stepped up to challenge Pelosi, and her team remains confident she will win a majority of the vote.

In the poll, the vast majority of Republicans are opposed to Pelosi staying as speaker, 83 percent. Independents also lean strongly against her: Just 22 percent say she should remain speaker, while 59 percent say she should not.

The numbers track closely with her overall image rating. Fewer than four-in-10 voters, 37 percent, have a favorable opinion of Pelosi, while 52 percent view her unfavorably. Among independent voters, 27 percent view Pelosi favorably, and 58 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her.

Pelosi has long been a Republican bête noire. The GOP has featured her in campaign ads for more than a decade, especially in swing districts, to yoke Democratic candidates to one of the least popular figures in the party.

But in 2020, Pelosi was often joined with — or supplanted by — other liberal boogeymen and boogeywomen in Republican ads, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

While Pelosi is unpopular, she does best one congressional leader: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s favorable rating is just 26 percent, and twice that many voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Kentucky Republican, 52 percent.

But McConnell, who has come under fire from outgoing President Donald Trump for acknowledging the reality of Joe Biden’s victory, has more tepid favorability ratings among Republicans (48 percent) than Pelosi has among Democrats (65 percent).

“Over half of registered voters — 52 percent — hold unfavorable views of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” said Kyle Dropp, the co-founder and president at Morning Consult. “Each hopes to remain in charge of their respective chambers next year when leadership elections formally take place, but will have to contend with diminished majorities in the new Congress — at best — following the 2020 election.”

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Dec. 18-20, surveying 1,995 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult is a global data intelligence company, delivering insights on what people think in real time by surveying tens of thousands across the globe every single day.

More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents: Toplines | Crosstabs

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