By Kathryn L. Pearson, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota . First published on The Conversation.
She will preside over a chamber that is 77 percent male and a Democratic Caucus that is 62 percent male.
When the Democratic Caucus held their leadership election on Nov. 28, Pelosi won the nomination on a 203 to 32 vote, falling 15 votes shy of the 218 she would later need to win the speakership with all members voting.
When a vote was taken on the House floor on Jan. 3, she won by a vote of 220 to 192, with 15 Democrats voting for someone else or voting “present.” The close vote illustrated, once again, Pelosi’s skill in coalition-building and counting votes, but also that some Democrats – particularly new members and those in swing districts – are dissatisfied with her as the party’s standard bearer.
It’s important to realize that Pelosi’s battle to win over wavering Democrats didn’t begin in November 2018. Rather, it stretches back to when she was first elected to leadership in 2001. Her ongoing ability to rally members of her own party illustrates why she has been among the most successful U.S. House speakers. It also suggests her leadership will help Democrats in Congress as they negotiate with President Trump and Senate Republicans, even if Pelosi remains unpopular in some Democratic members’ districts.