Could Nancy Pelosi actually lose?

On Monday, the "Never Nancy" crowd went public....

Posted: Nov 20, 2018 5:42 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2018 5:42 AM

On Monday, the "Never Nancy" crowd went public.

Sixteen House Democrats released a letter pledging not to vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker on the House floor, writing: "We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise."

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That 16 is not an insignificant number. Democrats have won 232 seats heading into the 116th Congress; of the three uncalled races, they lead in one of them. Assume, then, that Democrats enter next January with 233 seats. Pelosi would need 218 -- a simple majority of the House -- to be elected speaker. If those 16 vote against her -- and no Republican votes for her, Pelosi has 217 votes -- one short of what she needs. One important caveat: Ben McAdams of Utah signed the letter but is currently trailing in his bid to come to Congress. So at the moment, that's 15 "not Nancy" votes, which is one fewer than the anti-Pelosi forces need to keep her from a majority. (CNN has a great tracker on who is against Pelosi and who is thinking about being against her.)

What's fascinating about all of this is how truly unconcerned -- at least outwardly -- the would-be speaker seems. In a massive profile of Pelosi by Robert Draper that published on The New York Times website on Monday, Pelosi said this about those who have questioned her plan on how to lead the Democratic caucus next year:

"In terms of subpoena power, you have to handle it with care. Yes, on the left there is a Pound of Flesh Club, and they just want to do to them what they did to us." She shook her head emphatically. "That's not who we are. Go get somebody else if that's who you want."

That last sentence is particularly striking: "Go get somebody else if that's what you want."

It's also a nod to the fact that the anti-Pelosi crowd doesn't have a candidate to be, well, for. The only person considering the race is Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, although she has given no indication of where she is leaning. If Fudge says no, it's very hard to imagine any other Democrat challenging Pelosi.

But, her detractors would argue, that is beside the point. Because, unlike past failed insurrections against Pelosi, they aren't trying to beat her in the Democratic caucus vote -- where Pelosi will need only a simple majority of the 232 or 233 Democrats elected to the House. They are trying to beat her in the floor vote for speaker. And they're right that there is a difference there.

In 2010, following Democrats' loss of the House, North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler challenged Pelosi in the caucus vote. He got 43 votes; she got the other 150. In 2016, after Democrats failed to re-take the House majority, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan took on Pelosi. She won 134-63, a sign that there was a growing group willing to oppose Pelosi, but that that bloc wasn't nearly big enough to beat her.

This time around, the anti-Pelosi crowd is ceding the fact that they can't beat her in a caucus vote -- especially with no candidate. Instead, what they are trying to do is rob Pelosi of the simple majority she needs on the House floor, forcing her to either win over doubters on a second (or more) ballot or bow out. (A third option -- winning the speakership with the help of Republican votes, as President Donald Trump has suggested -- is a non-starter for Pelosi, who has said she will win with Democratic votes alone.)

We've seen something like this before -- except on the Republican side. After the 2014 election, conservatives opposed to John Boehner's speakership vowed they could keep him from a simple majority. All told, 25 Republicans voted against Boehner on the floor. That was less than the 29 defections he could afford. What's interesting about that vote is that six of the 25 Republicans voted "present" rather than vote for someone other than Boehner. Doing so lowered by six the number Boehner needed for a simple majority.

Which brings me back to Pelosi. It's not yet clear how many -- if any -- of her 16 detractors might consider voting "present" rather than voting for someone other than Pelosi. But if any did, it would reduce the number of votes Pelosi would need to win. Let's say, for example, six Democrats voted "present." That would lower her "win" number to 215. Get it? Good!

The Point: We've known for a while now that Pelosi's election as speaker isn't a cakewalk. The letter on Monday solidifies that sense -- and makes clear what a tight window Pelosi has to win. Still, if you look at her career, her history of winning close votes and the fact that no one is running against her at the moment, she still has to be considered the frontrunner.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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