Is Nancy Pelosi delusional about midterms? Here's what's behind her boast to Colbert

Can Speaker Nancy Pelosi be so out of it as to think that with only five seats between Democrats and minority status, that her party will actually hold the House in November?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on Stephen Colbert’s "The Late Show" recently to claim Democrats will "hold the House by winning more seats."

Really? Since the creation of what political scientists call the "Second American Party System" between 1818 and 1824, there have been just two times that the party holding the White House gained House seats – 1934 and 2002. But while it can be done, today we don’t have President Franklin Delano Roosevelt bringing the nation back from the depths of the Great Depression or President George W. Bush leading the War Against Terror in the aftermath of 9/11.

Today, we’ve got President Joe Biden. He often seems lost and confused and is dragged down by a 43% approval rating with only 27% of Americans believing the country is going in the right direction, inflation at a 40-year high, 82% thinking the economy is "only fair" or "poor," a border crisis, and rising crime and lawlessness. 


So what’s up with Nancy Pelosi? Is she delusional? Or was something else at play here?

Though at age 82 she’s lost a few steps, Pelosi, D-Calif., can’t be so out of it as to think that with only five seats between them and minority status, Democrats will actually hold the House in November.


My bet is she said what she did to keep the bottom from falling out. She doesn’t want Democratic donors to stop giving. She doesn’t want Democratic candidates to slack off. She doesn’t want Democratic activists to hang up their clipboards and canvassing shoes. She doesn’t want Democratic voters to fail to turn out.

She wanted to project confidence on Colbert because she knew her audience (those in the studio cheered her ridiculous claim) and interlocutor (he joined in the partisan applause and didn’t challenge his guest). Her hope was to keep money flowing, get-out-the-vote efforts chugging, and candidates charging until the end. 

If that happens, then maybe, just maybe, a few more Democrats might win who’d otherwise lose and the Republican House majority would be a smidge smaller than it would have been otherwise. Minimizing her party’s political casualties would allow liberal pundits and partisan cheerleaders like Colbert to say, "It could have been worse."

Maybe that’s how it will play out. But for this observer, it was a sad moment. She seems a pale shadow of the Nancy Pelosi of 15 years ago when she became the first woman to wield the speaker’s gavel. After November, she’s likely to go swiftly, resigning from Congress to allow her party to attempt a reset with new leadership. Whether announced as such or not, her Colbert appearance was a late-night talk show swan song. 


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