Right after the election I had the pleasure of engaging in post-election punditry with DJ C+ and Dave Black, the hosts of WSUM's Landmine. Dave attributed much of the Democrats' losses to a backlash against "Pelosi-Reid."
I disagreed. While the image of Pelosi as a vile San Francisco death panel witch may rile up the Republican base, which is regularly fed evidence of her evil on FNC and talk radio, it probably does little to influence swing voters. Most people don't know much about Congressional leaders. Even fewer care. They care much more about the economy and the president and his party's seeming inability to bring jobs back.
It is partially out of recognition of this reality that House Democrats are poised to re-elect Pelosi as leader of their caucus. However, Politico highlights other, less visible reasons why many members support the speaker.
Pelosi has wielded such power in the House that every Democrat with an influential position, a decent committee assignment, reasonable office space or an extra staff member has the speaker's good graces to thank for it.
...Say what you want about the outgoing speaker, but she's as skillful a player as there is in the Democratic Party when it comes to raising money, rallying the base and devising legislative strategy. Democrats are $20 million in debt, and her camp is making the argument that she's the only one who can pull them out.
....During a closed-door caucus meeting on Tuesday, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn likened the advancement of the health care law at the expense of House seats to the achievements of the civil rights movement, which also cost Democrats at the ballot box.
"I don't think it was wrong to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965," Clyburn said, noting that most of the black and Hispanic members wouldn't be members of Congress without the legislation. "I don't think it was wrong to pass the health care bill.
Another aspect of Pelosi that makes her a more attractive speaker than Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), her only declared opponent, is that she represents a safe district. She never has to worry about her own re-election efforts, which allows her to concentrate on working for other members, and the caucus as a whole.