Jun 22, 2017

The Pelosi problem

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Democrats' embarrassing special-election loss in Georgia, after the vocal left fanned unrealistic expectations, provokes a wave of bitter post-gaming that targets House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. It's part of a generational argument that's also driving the party's 2020 conversation.

Be smart: With a wobbly start for Trump and his agenda, Dems we talk to as we travel the country have gotten the idea that of course the House will flip in midterms next year. In fact, this year's special elections showed that vulnerability by the other side doesn't necessarily translate into raw votes for you. Republicans are more reliable voters in midterms, and reversing that will be a massive task for Dems.

  • Front page of Silicon Valley's paper, The Mercury News of San Jose, "THE PELOSI PROBLEM: Some fault minority leader for losses," by Casey Tolan: "Some of the toughest ads against the 30-year-old [Georgia Dem candidate Jon] Ossoff were those tying him to Pelosi, whose approval ratings are underwater outside California."
  • The N.Y. Times' lead print story, "Democrats Fume As Georgia Loss Deepens Discord," by Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, carries this memorable online headline: "Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: 'Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump.'"
  • The money quote: "Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become 'toxic' in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as 'not being able to connect with the issues they care about.' 'Our brand is worse than Trump.'"
  • NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald: "At a closed-door meeting with colleagues, there were no challenges to the Democratic leadership or any obvious signs of dissent ... But for every Democratic official or operative publicly calling for new leadership, there are others who privately express the same sentiment."
  • A morning-after memo from the head of the House Democrats' campaign arm, DCCC Chair Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, tries to buck up the troops by declaring: "THE HOUSE IS IN PLAY," partly because of "the nationwide collapse of support for President Trump."

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