McClatchy reported on a remarkable survey taken of 20 Democratic House candidates. They were asked whether or not they would support current #House Minority Leader #Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the next Congress. Only one answered yes, 18 refused to answer, and one stated flatly that he would not support Pelosi. The results of the survey illustrate the conundrum that the Democrats face if they hope to retake #The House.

The Pelosi problem

Pelosi has held on to power for so long because of her fundraising ability and the fact that she can keep her caucus more or less in line. She reached the apex of her prestige when the Democrats recaptured the House in 2006.

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However, Pelosi began to suffer a decline when the Republicans regained their majority in 2010 and has continued to suffer ever since.

The Democrats lost a string of special elections in 2017, some of which they had high hopes of winning due to President Donald Trump’s relative unpopularity. However, Republicans have been adroit in tying Democratic candidates to Pelosi, who is also wildly unpopular, especially in red states, for her image as a San Francisco liberal.

Pelosi, who is in her late 70s, has recently displayed a number of “senior moments” in which she seemed to be confused, on several occasions thinking that George W. Bush is president of the United States. Republicans have made much of these incidents, implying that Pelosi is no longer capable of performing her duties as Democratic House leader or, indeed, as a member of Congress.

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What to do about a problem like Nancy Pelosi?

The difficulty Democrats face is how to ease Pelosi out of power and replace her with someone without her baggage. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer would ordinarily step up to the top slot if Pelosi were to go. However, it is by no means clear whether he could do so without being challenged by younger members of the House Democratic caucus.

The betting is that Pelosi stays unless she becomes too mentally or physically incapable of continuing in her position. She is not the sort of person to step aside for the good of the party. Her identity is wrapped up in being a legislator and a political leader. Without holding those positions, Pelosi really has no purpose to exist, at least in her own mind.

Of course, if the Democrats fall short of a minority in 2018, things may change. Pelosi may be given no choice but to step down lest she suffer the humiliation of being defeated in a leadership battle.