‘I Believe We Will Win the House’: Pelosi Makes Midterm Prediction in Late-Night Interview

‘I Believe We Will Win the House’: Pelosi Makes Midterm Prediction in Late-Night Interview
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference promoting the Inflation Reduction Act at Southeast Health Center Clinic in San Francisco on Aug. 24, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Joseph Lord
10/4/2022
Updated:
10/4/2022
0:00

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she thinks her party will hold the House despite grim omens for House Democrats’ prospects in the November midterm elections.

During an Oct. 3 appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Pelosi was asked for her midterm prediction.

“I believe that we will win the House—hold the House,” Pelosi said. “And we will hold the House—by winning more seats.”

Though observers widely expect Republicans to return to the majority in 2023 after four years in the minority, Pelosi has remained adamant that her party will maintain control of the lower chamber.

In 2018, Democrats rode a “blue wave” to retake control of the House from Republicans, but the GOP retained control of the Senate. In 2020, Democrats’ margins shrunk substantially. At the moment, Pelosi can only absorb a handful of defections to avoid a vote failing.

During her appearance on Colbert’s show, Pelosi chalked up Democrats’ net loss of seats in 2020 to the fact that President Donald Trump’s name was on the ballot.

Pelosi continued, “We won the 40 seats [during the 2018 midterms], then we lost some when Trump was on the ballot—we lost some of the Trump districts—but we held enough seats to hold the House with him on the ballot.”

“He’s not on the ballot now,” Pelosi added.

As of the afternoon of Oct. 4, polling firm FiveThirtyEight gave Republicans a 69 in 100 chance of retaking the House after four years in the minority. However, prospects in the Senate are less sanguine for Republicans, and most observers expect that Democrats will retain the upper chamber—forcing Democrats to brace for the possibility of a divided government in 2023.

A Divided Caucus

Though Pelosi promised in 2018 that her stint as speaker in the 116th Congress would be her last as Democrats’ leader in the House, she later reneged on that promise, being reelected speaker for the 117th Congress. Now, she seems open to the prospect of again violating her 2018 promise, as she has refused to commit to following through if Democrats retain the House.

If Democrats beat the odds and manage to retain control of the House for two more years, Pelosi could still face issues. Ideological divides and generational fractures have ballooned in the party over the past few years, with many younger Democrats becoming bolder in calling for new leadership.

As Democrats have prepared for the tough upcoming midterm battle, the party has been desperate to avoid the appearance of disunity. But for years, fractures—both ideological and generational—have bubbled under the surface for the party.

On several occasions during the 117th Congress, Democrats’ policy aspirations have been stalled or tanked altogether by infighting between progressives and moderates.

Further, calls have escalated for new leaders to come to the fore as Democrats have grown more dissatisfied with current leaders. These issues have stemmed, in part, from generational divides among Democrats in Congress.

Democrats’ caucus includes three of the five youngest members of Congress—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.).

Though the average age of House Democrats is 59 years old according to data from FiscalNote, party leadership has an average age of almost 72 years old, including three octogenarians.

Generational fractures between the party old guard and new Democrats first emerged as early as 2018, when Democrats extracted a pledge from Pelosi that she would not serve as speaker again.

Younger Democrat Lawmakers Speak Up

On Sept. 30, following a decision by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to push back consideration of a bill that would ban members of Congress from selling stocks, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) blasted the decision as “a failure of House leadership.”

Spanberger, who at 43 years old is substantially younger than much of Congress, called for new leaders to take the helm.

“This moment marks a failure of House leadership and it’s yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill, as I have long made known,” Spanberger wrote in a heated letter over the decision.

Spanberger is not the only Democrat to call for a changing of the guard among leadership.

Reps. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) are among the few in their caucus who have gone as far as calling for a “new generation” of Democrats to take over from President Joe Biden and other current leaders.

Though Democrats have striven to maintain the appearance of unity, Pelosi—if her prediction that her party will hold the House is correct—will still face the prospect of reigning over a severely-divided caucus during the 118th Congress.

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