For Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer, D.C. Is Now A Bleak Landscape

California’s top three Democrats in Washington — all of them older than 70 and all with outsized influence on national policy that took decades to achieve — woke up Wednesday to crippled prospects and questions about their future in politics.

But the stakes may be highest for former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 74, of San Francisco, the city where she retains deep roots and where she began her ascent more than 25 years ago to become the highest-ranking female politician in U.S. history.

Pelosi’s record in the last three elections, however, has not been good. Republicans now have their biggest House majority since 1929. Tuesday’s devastation followed a historic loss of 63 Democratic seats in 2010 that toppled Pelosi from the speakership. In 2012, President Obama won re-election but Democrats netted just eight seats, far short of what Pelosi needed to reclaim the speaker’s gavel.

Gerrymandering to protect incumbents has left only about 50 of 435 House seats in play in any election. Democrats would have to win practically all of them in 2016 to retake control, GOP analysts said.

“Not only does this election put 2016 out of reach — the next conceivable time that Democrats can retake the House is 2020,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, arguing that Democrats will have to wait for the next census to redraw district maps.

“I don’t think that a Hillary presidency could flip this back,” O’Connell said. If Clinton is the next president, he said, then history indicates the 2018 midterms will only cost Democrats more seats.

Read more from Carolyn Lochhead at the San Francisco Chronicle

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