House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who won an eighth term leading the Democratic caucus last fall, should be replaced regardless of whether her party regains control of Congress’ lower chamber in next year’s elections, according to a new poll.
The statewide survey of California Democrats by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found only 30 percent believe House Democrats should choose Pelosi to stay on as their leader should they win back the House of Representatives in 2018. Some 44 percent prefer somebody else taking over, while the remainder have no opinion.
Democrats have long watched in disappointment as Republicans consistently use Pelosi as “one of their main battering rams” in competitive House races, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.
“What California Democrats see is that Pelosi’s image in other parts of the country is not positive,” DiCamillo said, “and it becomes a drag in their quest to retake the House.”
Should Republicans retain control of the House in the midterms, the poll found that half of Democrats want their party to pick another leader while just 31 percent prefer Pelosi.
“Their main frustration is with what’s going on in Washington,” DiCamillo added. “They don’t like the situation and they want to change it. Anything they can do to bring that about is helpful.”
The survey was taken through Sept. 5, before Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a deal with President Donald Trump to raise the debt ceiling. Late Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Pelosi and Schumer had reached an agreement with Trump on border security and efforts to shield immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
While Pelosi’s leadership has come under scrutiny before, the veteran San Francisco politician is a prodigious fundraiser and her grip on the caucus has remained strong despite electoral setbacks. In November, she easily overcame a challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who said the last election demonstrated the party’s increasing disconnection with the struggles of working-class Americans.
California Democrats’ souring views on Pelosi come amid a leftward shift in the state party as its veteran guard – beginning last year with former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, and continuing next year with the departure of Gov. Jerry Brown – gives way to a new generation of politicians.
The UC Berkeley poll found that voters between the ages of 18 and 29 and those who identify as “strongly liberal” have considerably more favorable views of first-year U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris than they do of her Democratic colleague, Dianne Feinstein, who is considering running for a fifth term next year.
Concluded DiCamillo: “That is where the future of the Democratic Party is heading.”