Republican Rick Saccone came up short in Tuesday’s special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, losing by a few hundred votes to 33-year-old Democrat Conor Lamb. But the biggest losers were arguably Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and his Democratic counterpart Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
From the very beginning of the race, national Republicans worked hard to push the message that the rookie Democrat was nothing more than a stooge of Pelosi and other “liberal elites.” They pushed the idea early and often, particularly after the House minority leader repeatedly dismissed the comparatively small amounts of money that middle-income taxpayers received from the recently-passed GOP tax cut as “crumbs.” (After resisting intra-party calls to apologize for her accurate but indecorous phrasing, she eventually recanted.)
Democrats who hear such messaging invariably roll their eyes without realizing that they are not its intended audience. Republicans made the same mistake in 2012 when Democrats seized on covertly recorded remarks from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney which derided “47 percent” of Americans for supposedly being useless wards of the federal government.
While the message is one the GOP has used since 2010, it’s effective. Pelosi elicits strongly negative views from Republicans and lukewarm support from Democrats, giving her a less than 29 percent approval rating and 50 percent unfavorable rating as of last September. Attacking her was likely the key to GOP victory last year in Georgia, where insurgent candidate Jon Ossoff failed in his special election bid for the state’s 6th congressional district.
“Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic,” Corry Bliss, executive director…