Why not? After all, she’s only lost two national elections in a row while leading the House Democratic caucus, which includes the largest loss in a midterm in 72 years, followed by the inability to regain the House while a Democratic President won re-election by a comfortable margin. Why, in another two years, Nancy Pelosi might be able to deliver a veto-proof majority to, er, John Boehner.
The Washington Post thought she might have called the 10 am presser to deliver a valediction, and most assumed before this morning that she would withdraw from her House Minority Leader position:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who built and then lost the largest Democratic majority in a generation, is considering ending her historic 10-year reign as Democratic leader after the second disappointing election in a row for her caucus.
Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that she would announce her decision during a Wednesday morning press conference. She has not signaled whether she intends to remain atop a caucus that she has ruled with a near-iron fist, including four years as the first female House speaker and six years in the minority. …
Some House races are not officially decided, but Democrats are expected to gain about seven seats when all the votes are tallied — a disappointment in a year in which Obama and Senate Democrats performed so well.
The Post wasn’t entirely sure of Pelosi’s intentions, though:
One option for Pelosi, according to some lawmakers, would be for her to announce that she will serve one more term as leader, setting off a two-year succession race within the Democratic caucus.
And in fact, that’s what we saw on Twitter this morning:
Per Fox’s Chad Pergram, Pelosi says she will stick around & run for Democratic Leader again
— Ed Henry (@edhenryTV) November 14, 2012
Pelosi will remain as Democratic Leader
— Kerry Picket (@KerryPicket) November 14, 2012
That sounds like a pretty bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, the most likely successors to Pelosi will come from current leadership within the caucus, which isn’t exactly a youth movement. Steny Hoyer has the inside track for Pelosi’s job, and he’s 73 years old, one year older than Pelosi herself. Jim Clyburn might make a bid for the leader position and become the first African-American to chair a House party caucus, but he’s 72 years old. John Larson, the caucus chairman, is a relative youngster at 64 years old. None of these leaders will gain much more than pension benefits by waiting another two years.
Second, another two years gives Republicans another two years to make Pelosi the face of the party. Every Democrat in a purple-to-red district who votes for another Pelosi term will end up having to defend that vote in the next midterm election. Without Obama at the top of the ticket, the turnout in 2014 is going to look somewhat different than 2012, and some of those new freshmen coming into the House on a platform of change might not be able to explain why their first vote was to support a sclerotic and failed status quo within their own party.
Normally, one would have expected a leader to resign in the wake of the historic 2010 rebuke. After a second disappointment, it’s almost mandatory by Washington etiquette. If Pelosi isn’t ready to quit, perhaps Democrats should push her out themselves.
Update: According to National Journal, Pelosi won’t face any challenge to her leadership position. Again.