Republicans think they'll win back the House by attacking Nancy Pelosi again


The strategy has failed in two consecutive cycles — but it's not stopping Republicans from running the playbook again.

House Republicans are "giddy" about their chances of winning back control of the House in the 2022 elections, in part because they believe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is unpopular and they can run against her again in next November's midterms, Politico reported.

According to the report, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee that works to elect Republicans to the House, circulated a memo on Monday that said GOP polling found Pelosi is "the most unpopular elected official in the country" and that "Democrats in these districts are going to have an uphill battle defending their decisions to vote in lockstep with Pelosi’s socialist agenda."

Stu Rothenberg, a longtime political analyst, called the memo "nothing but spin."

"What this memo smells like is a political people at the NRCC got it in their brains that we gotta create some momentum here for this election, so we'll get pollsters to write up a memo about how great things are," Rothenberg told the American Independent Foundation.

He added, "They've got Nancy Pelosi on the brain here, but the reality is that 2022 midterms is likely to be about Joe Biden. ... And, I'd have to see some numbers that would really blow my mind to think that running against Nancy Pelosi would be more effective than running against Joe Biden."

To be sure, Republicans do have a good shot at winning back control of the House in 2022.

However, that's in large part because historical data shows that the party in the White House often loses seats in midterm elections.

On top of that, Republicans will have more control over the decennial redistricting process this cycle as they dominate state legislatures, and they could gain an advantage simply by redrawing House districts that are more favorable to Republican candidates, which could flip the balance of power.

Given that Democrats currently hold just a 222-212 majority, even slight redistricting changes could flip control of the House.

However, Rothenberg said that has nothing to do with Pelosi, saying this memo looks to be more about helping excite Republican donors to give money rather than a serious look at the state of play in the 2022 midterms.

What's more, Republicans have now run an anti-Pelosi strategy twice in the past two cycles — in both 2018 and 2020 — and it failed both times.

As of April 2018, Pelosi had appeared in roughly one-third of GOP attack ads, according to a USA Today review.

Democrats went on to retake the House that year in a wave election, ousting Republicans from power for the first time since 2010.

Republicans ran similar ads in 2020tying Democrats to Pelosi and the left. Republicans picked up seats, but Democrats still maintained their majority — and Pelosi kept her speaker gavel.

Meanwhile, despite what the Republican memo says, Pelosi is not the most unpopular political leader, according to public polling.

Pelosi has an average favorability rating of 39%, according to the RealClearPolitics average. That's far higher than Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell's 25.5% approval rating, per the average.

But the 2022 midterm elections are a long way away — and Rothenberg said that Republicans planning now to win based on Pelosi's polling is premature.

"It's true the Republicans — based on historical trends — should be poised to make at least small gains in the House and maybe pick up a Senate seat or two and that would change Joe Biden's second two years of his term dramatically, even if the changes are small," Rotenberg said. "But it's not because of Nancy Pelosi." 

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.