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WINS 2020 Election Roundtable Part 5 – Should Nancy Pelosi Be Speaker? And The House Dems’ Diversity Problems

This discussion is one segment of a multi-part series centered around the 2020 Presidential Election.

Interviews have been transcribed from a digital roundtable that took place on 11/19 that included panelists, Democratic pollsters, and WINS team members Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.  The roundtable was moderated by Scott Kotchko.

SCOTT:  Let’s pivot to the House.  Should Nancy Pelosi remain Speaker? 

And, if so, what are the Democrats going to do about their leadership age gap?  The average age of Democratic congressional leadership is 77.  On the Republican side it is 53.  That sends an absolutely terrible message to any young person who wants to become involved in politics, it sends a terrible message to people who believe in meritocracy and it sends a terrible message about the lack of diversity in a party that prides itself as being diverse.

MATT:   It is a challenge that is without a solution at the moment, as it appears speaker Pelosi has already made it clear that she intends to be Speaker next term and has the votes to do it. It is a problem in the party that I can’t quite understand why we’re incapable of understanding the fact that our leadership in Congress in particular, does not reflect – not only just the age diversity of the party, but the actual diversity of this party.

I happen to believe that Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as one of the most effective speakers of the house in American history. But it frankly perplexes me why she’s interested in remaining Speaker in this environment, given that successful legislative agenda that she’s been able to pass for the last decade and a half.

I frankly don’t know why she wants to continue doing this and not give an opening to others that are trying to move up party leadership. It is frustrating. And it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

BERNARD:  Here’s my take. Will she be speaker?

Yes. Should be speaker? Yes.

But I think this is it. I think this is the transition period, it has to be the transition period.

I think Hakeem Jeffries should 100% be our next speaker after this. I think we’re going to use the ’21 – ’22 period as the transition. It’s unfortunate that the transition’s not happening now. But I think let Nancy Pelosi have her victory lap. She actually deserves it. She’s done an incredible job as Speaker. She brought us here.

But did we get a bigger majority? No. Have we retained the majority? Yes. And I think we have to spend the next two years really making fundamental changes so that new generations of leadership emerge.

And like I said, I think Jeffries would be an amazing Speaker. I think David Cicilline would’ve been great as Assistant Speaker because it would be an extraordinary leap forward to have the first openly gay person in that position. But the idea that we’ve got three near octogenarians, all white, in the leadership role, plus Jim Clyburn who is also an octogenarian – it has to be a transition time.

And by the way, I think we should term-limit the leadership positions.


Continue to Part 6: What Went Wrong With Political Polling In 2020, And How Can It Be Fixed?