Republican House candidates have attacked their Democratic opponents over their future potential vote to make Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House again. Many Democrats fearing potential electoral repercussions have responded by pledging not to vote for Pelosi, if they are elected.
CNN’s new poll suggests that Democrats may be overreacting. While the California Democrat remains a very unpopular figure, her impact on people’s votes this November looks like it’s going to be minimal.
Just 34% of registered voters say that Pelosi will be an extremely or very important factor in their vote this fall. That ranks dead last of the 10 factors asked about by CNN.
To give you an idea of how low Pelosi placed, at least twice as many voters said seven of the other nine factors (the economy, health care, immigration, corruption, gun policy, taxes and President Donald Trump) asked about were extremely or very important.
On the other end, a majority of voters (59%) say that Pelosi will be moderately important or not that important of a factor in how they will cast their ballots. The investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign, an issue that Democrats have been hesitant to talk about too much on the campaign trail, was the only other factor a majority of Americans said was moderately important or not that important to their 2018 vote.
When you drill down further, you can see just how unimportant Pelosi is in the minds of voters. A mere 14% of voters say she will be an extremely important factor. At least 30% of voters said that every other issue tested was extremely important in their 2018 vote.
Perhaps more interesting is the voters who say that Pelosi will be an extremely or very important factor in their vote. You might think given how Republican politicians have made her out to be a boogeyperson of sorts that Republican voters would view Pelosi as an important factor. You would be wrong.
Democrats actually seem to be more influenced by Pelosi in their vote choice than Republicans are. A near majority of Democrats (46%) say she will be an extremely or very important factor in their votes compared to 34% of Republicans.
Independents, meanwhile, really don’t care about Pelosi. Just 23% of independents say she’ll be an extremely or very important factor in their vote choice. A supermajority of 70% say Pelosi will be moderately important or not that important of a factor.
Republicans, of course, want to make Pelosi an issue in order to try and counterbalance Trump’s own bad numbers. If this poll is correct, it simply isn’t working.
Voters say Trump is far more important to their vote than Pelosi. Twice the percentage of voters (68%) say Trump is extremely or very important than say the same about Pelosi (34%). When you break it down by party, majorities of Democrats (70%), Republicans (82%) and independents (58%) say that the Trump factor is extremely or very important to their vote this November.
The CNN polling is not surprising given the history of recent midterms. As I pointed out in February, opinions of opposition party leaders simply have not correlated with midterm results. If they did, it’s hard to imagine Newt Gingrich’s Republican Party winning control of the House in 1994 or John Boehner’s Republican Party holding onto control in 2014. Both had negative popularity ratings heading into those midterm elections, and it didn’t help the Democratic president’s party (Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2014).
The president’s low approval ratings in both 1994 and 2014 ended up mattering a lot more than the opposition party leader’s low ratings. Given CNN’s new polling data on Pelosi and Trump and the Democrats’ consistent lead on the generic congressional ballot (including an 11 percentage point lead in CNN’s latest poll), it seems likely that will be the case in 2018 again.
Unless Trump’s approval rating rises, Republicans are in deep trouble even with Pelosi being unpopular.