Despite the predictions of a “blue wave” that would usher in total control of Congress, House Democrats are facing a razor-thin majority. Post-election reporting shows deep division between the centrist and progressive wings.
As several key states are still outstanding in the presidential race, the balance of power in the House of Representatives is also uncertain. Tempers flared and divisions emerged in a conference call Thursday among Democratic House members.
- USA Today reports at least seven incumbent Democrats lost their races.
- As House Democrats face unexpected losses, some members of the “centrist” wing are engaging colleagues to encourage a challenge to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.
- Some blamed the prioritization of healthcare over the economy, while others warned of the caucus’ extreme liberal wing and its emphasis on “defunding the police” in the upcoming Senate run-offs in Georgia.
- High-ranking Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina was quoted on the call: If “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win.”
- ABC News reports Rep. Cheri Bustos, this election cycle’s chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said “Something went wrong here across the entire political world.” Centrist Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who nearly lost her race in Viriginia, a state that has tilted blue in recent years, characterized Democrats’ congressional efforts as a failure.
- Speaker Pelosi pushed back on the criticism, saying “we did not win every battle but we did win the war.”
- The election drew its sharpest contrast in Florida, where Trump won a disproportionate amount of the Latino vote and two southern Florida Democratic incumbents lost their House seats.
- The Washington Post characterized the House Democrats’ phone call as a “bitter exchange”, with “centrist members blasting their liberal colleagues.”
- CNN similarly emphasized the infighting, characterizing the conference call as “tense” and quoting one Democratic member: “She [Pelosi] never takes any responsibility.”
- Liberal online outlet called the election results for House Democrats “a catastrophe.”
- Pushback by the progressive wing of the caucus on responsibilty for the poor electoral showing was highlighted by Newsweek.
- Fox News framed the situation as a difficult path for Pelosi to retain her speakership.
- Kimberly Strassel wrote for the Wall Street Journal that Biden’s appeal to centrism highlights the “split” of the Democratic Party.
- National Review’s David Hirsanyi wrote the arguing between House Democrats is emblematic of a larger culture war, one he argues conservatives are winning.
- Tuesday’s House results were “lackluster” for Democrats according to the New York Post, who quoted one Democratic member anonymously: “It’s a dumpster fire.” The Post depicted the election as putting “Pelosi’s ambitious legislative goals for the 2021…in jeopardy.”
© Dallas Gerber, 2020