GOP Tactic of Maligning Pelosi Failing
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 06:20:32 PM EDT
Republicans have been up on the air in a number of congressional districts around the country trying to paint Democratic canididates as excessively liberal and too close of allies of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi -- a San Francisco liberal. Leaving aside the fact that being labeled a "Democrat" in this political environment would probably help, more than hurt most candidates, new polling from Quinnipiac University finds that Pelosi is largely unknown by the electorate.
The Quinnipiac survey shows that a 53 percent majority of Americans aren't familiar enough with Pelosi to form an opinion about her, the same amount as are unfamiliar with Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist. Close to two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) don't know much about Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid while no numbers were available for either House Speaker Denny Hastert or House Republican Leader John Boehner.
None of the three congressional leaders polled has a particularly high ratings, which jibes with Americans general unhappiness with Congress as a whole. On a favorability scale from 1 to 100, Pelosi scored an average of 34.7, Reid averages 37.9, and Frist averages 45.5.
These numbers indicate that although House Republicans believe they can hold on to power by scaring voters with the prospect of a Pelosi Speakership, this ikely will not be a successful tactic. Yes, such a move has worked more or less in the past; President Clinton was able to run against Newt Gingrich quite deftly during the 1998 midterms as Democrats made history by netting a five-seat increase in the House. But Gingrich in 1998 was significantly more well-known and disliked that Pelosi is today. A Harris poll from that summer found that 92 percent of Americans knew enough about Gingrich to form an opinion about him, with 28 percent of Americans viewing him favorably and a whopping 64 percent of Americans viewing him unfavorably. When asked a similar question about Pelosi this spring by The Hotline (.pdf), Pelosi's favorables are 33 percent while her unfavorables are 8 percent. Simply put, Nancy Pelosi is no Newt Gingrich and the Republican strategy of tying Democratic congressional candidates in key races to her will not succeed.