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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why is Nancy Pelosi So Unpopular?

By: Inoljt,

There is no denying that Ms. Pelosi is very, very unpopular. This is old news, and relatively boring stuff.

What is more interesting is exploring how Ms. Pelosi became one of the least-like politicians in America.

More below.

When Democrats came roaring to take control of Congress in 2006, Ms. Pelosi was a favorite Republican target. Conservative commentators liked to warn Americans about how extreme to the left Ms. Pelosi was. And the House leader was quite an inviting target: a congresswoman from a hotbed of American liberalism, who did not look good on television, and who occupied an inherently unpopular position (quick: name one House speaker who’s ever had positive approval ratings).

These attacks continued throughout her term in power; indeed, they continue to this very day. Republicans were quickly able to succeed in making Ms. Pelosi as disliked a figure as possible amongst conservatives. It was not hard, especially given Ms. Pelosi’s inherent liberalism.

But what really killed Ms. Pelosi’s approval ratings was the fact that Democrats declined to defend her. Ms. Pelosi got punched and punched and punched, and Democrats never bothered to punch back. Take, for instance, an everyday occurrence in cable news: a Republican commentator blasts Ms. Pelosi for being an extreme liberal out-of-touch with mainstream America. If this happens, one almost never sees the Democratic counterpart arguing that Ms. Pelosi isn’t out-of-touch. This is quite different from what happens, for instance, when a Republican commentator attacks President Barack Obama.

Even Ms. Pelosi herself didn’t bother to defend her reputation. Instead, she spent her time passing laws Republicans hated and making the life of the Republican minority miserable. Ms. Pelosi was quite good at doing this; indeed, her skills at whipping the Democratic caucus rival those of the legendary Lyndon Johnson.

In not bothering to defend Ms. Pelosi, Democrats calculated that her unpopular approval ratings did not really matter; they would not affect the mid-term or presidential elections. Most probably don’t like Ms. Pelosi anyways.

The correctness of this calculation is almost impossible to prove. The Democratic Party’s good results in 2008 would indicate that Ms. Pelosi’s unpopular ratings had little effect. Their bad results in 2010 would indicate the opposite.

Whatever the truth, one can be fairly certain that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will continue doing her best to make Republican lives as miserable as possible.


  1. sricki

    I’ll never understand why she’s as reviled as she is by so many people.

    I’m just glad she keeps on fighting regardless.  

  2. trashablanca

    or the Democratic Party and its platform at all. The RW Drumbeat was incessant and pounded it in. My housemate doesn’t like Pelosi and she’s always voted Democratic.

    It’s ironic that talented people in the arts are overwhelmingly liberal, but the wingnuts own the opinion turf.

    A major Democratic priority in 2012 is to retaking the successful messaging.

    The GOP has cleaned our clock pretty much since Nixon.

    Watergate killed them then, but no crime

    seems to hurt them now,

    and they are more corrupt than ever.

  3. GlenThePlumber

    that is why she is one of my favorites…The way she maneuvered through her own party to become speaker was awesome…Why do the knuckle dragging, ignorant, GOP voters hate her?..because she is a woman who is fierce, passionate and successful….Why do some mods and dems not like her? trashablanca’s comment…messaging, messaging, messaging…countering RW propaganda is one of our biggest battles…I think she will go down in history as one of the most successful speakers ever…or a least she should.

    p.s. “fierce and passionate” seems to be my phrase of the week, I don’t know why, it just seems to fit.

  4. The Real Republicans (ok, there aren’t any, anymore, so let’s just say Tea Parties) hate her because she is extremely liberal. They disagree with everything she stands for and everything she says, which is enough reason to not like, if not a good reason to hate.

    My “dislike” for her is not deeply founded. It isn’t that her ideas are further to the left than mine – that is just disagreement – but to me she comes across as acidic and divisive. Her inability to resist making an official statement blaming the GOP for the economy during the first emergency financing (remember that? Bush was still in, if I recall) is the one solid example of that perception being somewhat a reality.

    I can see how Capital C Conservatives dislike her, I can see how Capital L Liberals like her. She seems to exude a contempt for her opponents (pissing them off and making her supporters cheer). What I see as her divisiveness is my beef with her.

    It doesn’t seem likely to me that her gender or strength are a large part of her opposition’s reasoning. Her beliefs are enough for her political opponents is enough for them to dislike her. Her role and mannerisms are enough for them to dislike her a lot.

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