Republicans love to attack Nancy Pelosi just as much as Democrats love to attack Donald Trump. Both of them are seen as party leaders and both are polarizing figures in their own way.
But if GOP candidates think that attacking Pelosi is a way to assure victory in November’s midterm elections they may have to think again.
It turns out that Pelosi is more popular with the public than Trump, and in fact she would beat him in a head-to-head matchup.
The Democratic leader is a frequent Republican target, but an RNC poll shows she’s more popular than the president.
A recent survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek, asked registered voters who they support “when the November election is framed by Trump and Pelosi.”
Poll respondents said they prefer Pelosi-aligned candidates over Trump-aligned candidates by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. The margin was similar for independent voters also.
The poll was completed in early September before the publicity surrounding Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh may harm GOP candidates as well as taint the Republican brand.
The 78-year-old Democratic House minority leader is one of the president’s favorite targets to criticize. In a sarcastic tweet posted in August he wrote:
“Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi. She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!”
Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi. She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018
Congresswoman Pelosi of course loves to take shots at Trump also. Earlier in the summer she tweeted:
“Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin.”
Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on @realDonaldTrump personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin. #ABetterDeal
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 16, 2018
These new poll results must be very difficult for Republicans to accept since they have attacked and demonized the former Speaker of the House for years.
They have called Pelosi an effete, out-of-touch coastal liberal, and many other less flattering names. In fact, attacking Pelosi may have led to Republican gains in the House in the past two midterm elections, in 2010 and 2014.
Almost all political observers believe there is a high likelihood of Democratic gains in the House in November’s elections. Clearly attacking Pelosi is not going to stop these gains from occuring. Yet Republican strategists are in a difficult situation because they don’t have anyone else to attack as a counter to Democratic attacks on Trump.
This means the GOP may be forced to stay with the approach of attacking Pelosi despite the polls that show her outperforming Trump. They really don’t have any better alternatives at this point.
The same survey found that on a generic congressional ballot, voters favor the Democratic candidate by 9 points over the Republican. Which means the GOP has a lot of ground to catch up.
Republicans have also found that criticizing Pelosi is popular with their hardcore base of supporters. This helps them raise money and helps energize the base, so they’ll probably keep doing it. It may not help them keep control of the House, but it may serve to minimize their losses, which is probably all they can hope for this year.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.