House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s eight-hour faux-filibuster Wednesday put her back in the headlines — and that’s something Republicans welcome.
Love her or loathe her, Pelosi is one of the most fascinating figures in American politics right now. She is respected for her political savvy, especially how she counts votes and raises money.
But these days it’s unclear how much power she has in her own caucus, especially as enough House Democrats are expected to vote against her to keep the government open. It is becoming unclear whether she will even be the Democratic leader, much less speaker, after the midterm elections take place. This internal pressure may be why she gave the speech.
Republicans are already looking at improved poll numbers. In a generic ballot test for Congress — which asks respondents simply if they will vote for a Democrat or Republican but doesn’t include candidate name — Democrats only hold a 6-point advantage, down from 12 points in December. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the health care and tax reform uproars have faded and positive economic numbers are in the spotlight. Analysts say that because of gerrymandered districts, Democrats will need at least a 6-point advantage to take back the House.
Then there’s the Pelosi factor.
In the midterm elections, Pelosi may share the same fate as scandal-plagued Republican President Trump — becoming the opposing party’s villain.
We’ve already seen this in various special elections so far. Democratic activists are fired up in opposition to Trump. Republicans, meanwhile, are seeing some success in using Pelosi as a talking point. They just launched another round of television ads in a US House special election in Pittsburgh that linked Democrat Conor Lamb to Pelosi. They did this even though Lamb has tried to distance himself from Pelosi by saying he isn’t sure he supports her for Democratic leader.
In doing so, Lamb joined many Democratic candidates in swing districts. Some newer Democratic representatives from safe districts, like Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, say outright it is time for someone else to lead.
It is hardly the first time that Republicans have tried to turn Pelosi into a bogeyman. In fact, she has been used as a foil in Republican ads for a decade now, going back to 2008.
Republicans are stuck with Trump for the midterms. Democrats, on the other hand, could decide they need another face for the party. This helps explain why Pelosi delivered the longest speech on the House floor in over 100 years — and Republicans will happily save the clippings.James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp