With members of her own caucus calling for her head, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may find that November’s midterms are her last chance to maintain her 16-year grip on party leadership — and it looks like the San Francisco Democrat is going to allow the once-promising “blue wave” to slip through her fingers in just two weeks.
In a devastating sign for Pelosi, early indicators appear to show the Democratic advantage narrowing ahead of Nov. 6, and Republicans remain hopeful that they can outmaneuver their opponents and maintain a thin majority in Congress.
If that happens, you can say goodbye to the 78-year-old representative.
Bye bye, Pelosi
President Donald Trump’s rising approval rating, combined with a contentious Supreme Court nomination process that galvanized Republicans, has given the GOP a distinct advantage in traditionally conservative districts that appeared up for grabs just weeks ago. But the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Republicans have much to lose if they squander their House majority. A Democratic speaker of the House would allow Congress to stifle the president’s domestic agenda and grind legislation to a halt as Democratic-led committees investigate Trump over concerns voiced by a handful of leftist conspiracy theories.
If Democrats realize their wave election, Trump can kiss his ambitions for a border wall goodbye, and repealing Obamacare would become an impossibility.
Recognizing the stakes in these critical final days ahead of Nov. 6, both parties are redrawing the battle lines in swing districts across the country, moving money from races where the political tides have turned in recent weeks and pumping cash into campaigns where they still stand a chance. Together, both parties have reserved about $150 million in 11th-hour attack ads warning of what could happen if the other side controls Congress.
Show me the money
Meanwhile, thanks to Pelosi’s reputation as a gifted fundraiser, Democrats have the advantage when it comes to cold hard cash. Democrats have outraised their opponents by an unprecedented $410 million so far in what filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show will be the most expensive Congressional election race in U.S. history.
But Pelosi may not be able to hang her hat on even this small victory.
“There is a tremendous amount of small-dollar energy going on the Democratic side,” explained Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Pelosi’s fundraising acumen has worked best to garner donations from high-powered corporate PACs, not the smaller individual gifts from internet campaigns and grassroots venues.
Still, there’s no doubt that Pelosi’s influence in fundraising banquets in dozens of American cities helped contribute to the outsized Democratic advantage going into November.
Blue Wave or Red Revenge?
But will a nearly half-billion-dollar advantage help spring Democrats into power next month? Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, explained how the battle for the House has turned into a strategic chess match: “What happens is races that are at the margins, where it’s just going to be a tough slog regardless, they’ll pull out of those races…and they’ll reallocate those resources into races where that $20 million by Bloomberg now may make a difference.”
Money does not always guarantee an election victory, and Republicans are hoping that a series of hot-button issues will help galvanize their constituents and send them to the polls in record numbers.
With a president’s agenda on the table, and the strength of the conservative majority in the Supreme Court at stake, November will prove to be a crucial moment in American history.