Republicans, worried that Donald Trump’s unpopularity among voters will cost them their majority in the House in November, are expected to target someone they see as just as loathed among their base: San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
In an effort to offset whatever damage the GOP presidential nominee might do to Republican chances of retaining control of the House, Pelosi would be portrayed as the “scary liberal” who would become speaker if Democrats take charge, according to some political observers.
“Pelosi may be the only Democrat out there more despised by Republicans than Hillary Clinton,” said Republican political analyst Ford O’Connell, referring to the Democratic nominee. “Nancy Pelosi is always someone Republicans can rally around.”
It’s that prospect, say analysts, that Republicans would hammer into GOP voters to keep them from staying home on election day because they are disenchanted with Trump, or if they do show up, to persuade them from voting against Republicans down the ballot.
Democrats need a net gain of 30 seats to make Pelosi speaker again. Professional political handicappers currently estimate Democratic gains of up to 16 seats, but some political models are beginning to indicate that a Democratic majority may be within reach.
Retaking the House remains a daunting challenge. O’Connell, the GOP analyst, said only 35 House seats are in play, meaning Democrats would have to sweep nearly all of them. “You’d need almost a Goldwater meltdown by Trump,” O’Connell said, referring to the 1964 Republican nominee who lost in a historic landslide.