by Jonathan Singer, Wed Nov 01, 2006 at 05:47:58 PM EST
According to the latest column from The Hotline editor Chuck Todd, a Rahm Emanuel speakership is not only possible, it could come as a result of a grassroots effort spearheaded by the liberal blogosphere.
Scenario II: Democratic momentum stalls a bit, and the party narrowly picks up the House -- but only by a three- to five-seat margin. And the party's gains in the Senate are no more than a net of three seats, keeping the GOP in control.
But the fascinating storyline in this scenario will be Pelosi's fate. Will, say, 220 House Democrats stay united and elect Pelosi speaker, or will enough conservative House Democrats break and elect a compromise Democrat as speaker? Even the threat of Democrats peeling off and working in collaboration with the Republicans to do so might be enough to encourage a serious challenge to Pelosi inside the Democratic caucus. For some reason Pelosi has a terrible relationship with the liberal blogs. There's a pretty decent chance liberal bloggers could start a grassroots effort to get behind Emanuel for speaker. [emphasis added]
I'm not going delve into the probability that the Democrats will win control of the House but Nancy Pelosi will not be elected leader. It could happen, it could not happen; I just don't have the capacity to gauge the pulse of the House Democratic caucus -- especially not the one in the 110th Congress.
But should this situation play out and House Democrats opt not to back Pelosi as their Speaker, it's difficult for me to envision Emanuel being able to marshall the support for his own bid -- particularly from the Netroots. While Todd is correct that Pelosi is not terribly popular within the progressive blogosphere, polling (albeit non-scientific polling) shows that Emanuel is even less popular. According to the over 5,000 people who participated in the July dKos straw poll, Pelosi's approval rating among the Netroots was 36 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. Emanuel's numbers were noticeably lower, with 30 percent approving and 58 percent disapproving.
Playing out Todd's scenario -- Dems take over the House, but only by a narrow margin -- it's hard to see Emanuel becoming more popular, whether within the Netroots or even the grassroots. The consensus both inside and outside the Beltway is that November 7 presents the Democrats with their best opportunity for gains in the House in as many as 32 years. If, given this great potential, the Democrats are only able to win a bare majority, many will see Emanuel as having underperformed (even if they are at the same time ecstatic at retaking the House). This is particularly the case as a result of longstanding complaints about his strategy, most notably his reluctance to expand the playing field to the degree advocated by many in the Netroots, his propensity to get involved in competitive primaries and his allocation of funds (particularly the large investment in Illinois 6).
And just to make sure that I'm not taking the sentiments of the readers of this site and others for granted and am completely off base, I ask you this: Should the Democrats gain 18 seats, giving them a slim majority in the House, would you support a Pelosi speakership, an Emanuel speakership or the speakership of someone else? (Poll below)