Washington

Most Voters Want Pelosi to Leave Leadership, but the Bulk of Democrats Still Back Her

By a 16-point margin, Democratic voters said Pelosi should remain the House Democrats’ leader

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is surrounded by reporters as she returns to her office following a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her re-election campaign last week, prompting chatter about whether the longtime Democratic chief will work to retain her leadership role for an 11th full Congress. While most voters think Pelosi should give someone else a chance to lead House Democrats, she has support from the bulk of Democrats. 

Roughly Half of Democrats Back Another Term as Leader for Pelosi, but Most Voters Don’t

Voters were asked whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should seek another term as House Democratic leader or step aside and let someone else lead House Democrats

Poll conducted Jan. 28-30, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

What the data says

  • Roughly half of Democratic voters (49 percent) said Pelosi should remain House Democrats’ leader, according to the latest Morning Consult/Politico poll. The figure is slightly less than the share of Democratic voters who said the same in a December 2020 Morning Consult/Politico poll that Pelosi should get another term as House speaker.
  • A third of Democrats said Pelosi should step aside, including identical shares of the party’s male and female voters. But Democratic men are 10 percentage points more likely than Democratic women to say the country’s first female speaker should remain atop the Democratic caucus, 55 percent to 44 percent.
  • Among the overall electorate, 3 in 5 voters say Pelosi should descend from her perch, including 63 percent of independents and 87 percent of Republicans. 

The context

When Pelosi announced her plans to run for re-election, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee warned that vulnerable Democrats would be tied to “the most unpopular politician in the country,” harking back to the party’s successful “Fire Pelosi” campaign from the 2010 midterm elections.

Pelosi, who’s been the target of years of negative Republican messaging and spending nationwide, is much better known and indeed less popular than any other congressional leader — something that was also true when Democrats won back the House in 2018. But midterms are largely about the occupant of the White House rather than any person in leadership on Capitol Hill, meaning President Joe Biden’s diminished standing is likely far more relevant than Pelosi’s unpopularity.

Views on Biden — Not Pelosi — Drive Sentiment on Democrats in Congress

Average monthly net favorability ratings* for President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and congressional Democrats’ average monthly trust advantage on a range of issues

*Net favorability is the share of voters with favorable views minus the share with unfavorable views.
Polls conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Why Pelosi may not matter

  • The majority of voters (57 percent) hold unfavorable views of Pelosi, while a third view her favorably. It makes her more disliked among the overall electorate than Biden (52 percent) and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York (43 percent), though her unpopularity virtually matches the 56 percent who see Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a dim light.
  • Congressional Democrats’ trust advantage over their Republican counterparts on a range of issues tracks closely with Biden’s job approval rating. As sentiment about Biden further declined last month, an average of surveys conducted at that time found Democrats have surrendered their average edge in trust.
  • On average in January, 43 percent of voters said they would support a Democratic candidate in the midterm elections, while 42 percent said they would vote for a Republican. It’s similar to the Democrats’ standing on the question over the past two months. 

The poll was conducted Jan. 28-30, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult