Will Pelosi be elected speaker of the House? Rice political scientist available for comment

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David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Will Pelosi be elected speaker of the House? Rice political scientist available for comment

HOUSTON – (Nov. 16, 2018) – Now that the Democrats have taken back the U.S. House of Representatives, will Nancy Pelosi be chosen as speaker? Paul Brace, a political scientist at Rice University, is available to comment on the race for speaker.

Nancy Pelosi at a podium“For Nancy Pelosi, Democratic victories in the 2018 elections were both a blessing and a potential curse,” said Brace, who is the Clarence L. Carter Professor of Political Science in Rice’s School of Social Sciences. “To expand their base, Democrats ran surprisingly well in some typically unfriendly country where Pelosi is not well-liked.”

Brace said that some Democratic aspirants aligned with progressives and were openly opposed to business as usual.

“While roughly 25 districts flipped without candidates openly opposing Pelosi, approximately four dozen Democratic House candidates said they would not vote for her to be speaker and 16 of these candidates got elected,” he said. “Of these, two candidates said they would oppose Pelosi under any conditions, while the remainder could oppose her in the Democratic caucus but vote to support on the critical House floor vote.
“On one level, Pelosi is easy to oppose,” Brace continued. “Polls reveal she is not popular with the general public, yet most realize public scorn goes hand in hand with legislative leadership.”

However, Brace said public support for Pelosi is only slightly below that of exiting Speaker Paul Ryan and compares favorably with Republican and Democratic leadership in the Senate.

“In sum, it is not clear anyone else would be much more popular with the general public,” Brace said. “Beyond this, Pelosi is a master tactician and few, if any, challenge or rival her abilities as a legislator. Likewise, she is similarly unrivaled when it comes to fundraising for Democratic candidates.”

In the end, while it is easy and popular for some Democrats to call for new leadership, most Democratic House members find themselves like wing walkers, unwilling to jump from one wing without another on which to land.

“Thus far, none have stepped forward because the risks of challenging Pelosi are high,” Brace said. “Members of a failed coup would almost certainly expect retaliation, and opponents know the job of speaker requires uncommon skills and offers paltry rewards when it comes to popularity.”

Brace is widely published, primarily in the areas of state politics and judicial decision-making. He comments regularly on presidential politics and the judiciary. For more information on Brace, visit http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~pbrace/.

To schedule an interview with Brace, contact him directly at 832-628-5285.


This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Paul Brace bio: http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~pbrace/.

Photo link: https://news.rice.edu/files/2018/11/pelosi-wjo93z.jpg
Photo credit: 123rf.com

Caption: Nancy Pelosi during her 2014 visit to Rice University.
Photo link: https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/news-network.rice.edu/dist/c/2/files/2014/03/0324_PELOSI.jpg
Photo credit: Rice University

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.