Scenario 3: Majority Isn’t Big Enough

If you take Pelosi at her word, she’s planning on Democrats winning the majority and running for speaker again. But quite simply, winning 218 seats in November won’t be enough for that to happen. She’s going to need her party to win potentially dozens more to bookend her career with the gavel.

After the 2016 elections, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan garnered 63 votes in his challenge to Pelosi for minority leader. (She received 134 votes.) And earlier this month, The Washington Post identified 10 Democratic contenders who would oppose her and 10 more who “conspicuously declined to express support for her.” Part of Pelosi’s power is the role she played in members getting elected and re-elected, but there is a potentially new crop of freshmen who won’t have that loyalty and can’t break a campaign promise with the first vote they take in Congress. It would be electoral suicide in the types of districts they’d be representing.

If at least 35 Democrats who opposed her in the last leadership race vote to oppose her again, and there are at least 15 new members who can’t support her because of their campaign rhetoric and districts, Democrats would have to gain at least 60 seats because Pelosi would need 218 votes to become speaker, and not just a majority of her party.