Let’s assume that Cook’s right about Democratic prospects of regaining electoral ground in coming elections. Does that mean that liberals will hold their ideological ground in the war they’ve been waging with conservatives for the allegiance of the mean voter since Reaganites took over the Republican Party in the 1980s? Not at all inasmuch as it may turn out that the only way for Democrats to hold their own electorally is to surrender ground ideologically.
We’ve already seen plenty of evidence that things are headed in that direction. It never dawned on most liberals six months ago that Democratic congressmen who were celebrating the passage of ObamaCare as the crowning achievement of their political careers would be trying to pretend that it never happened on the campaign trail. The spectacular unpopularity of Nancy Pelosi is still more impressive evidence that Democrats will be staging an ideological retreat. Here’s Gallup:
Think about that. When it comes to marshalling liberal legislation through the byzantine corridors of the House, Pelosi's the most accomplished Speaker of the House since John McCormick. And she had a smaller Democratic majority, and a less popular and politically adept president, to work with. Her success had made her, more than any other national political figure, the personification of doctrinaire liberalism. So her spectacular unpopularity must mean something about the ideological leanings of the mean voter.“Independents in particular have become more negative about Pelosi, with her favorability dwindling nine points among this group since May, to 21%. Nearly 6 in 10 independents (58%) now view her unfavorably, compared with 86% of Republicans and 22% of Democrats. . . .
“Pelosi's image has gone from bad to worse in recent months, with independents, in particular, growing more critical of her. Her resulting 2-to-1 negative to positive image presents a challenge for congressional Democrats as they try to convince voters to send them back to Washington for another term. While President Obama may be of some benefit on the campaign trail in terms of firing up the Democratic base to turn out, Pelosi's subdued favorability among Democrats and highly negative image among independents suggest she is a far riskier person for Democratic candidates to be associated with -- something Republicans who are using her in ads against their opponents have already concluded."
I’m betting that if Democrats keep or regain the House in 2012, it will be partly because Pelosi has surrendered the Speaker’s gavel. Any takers?