As Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is poised to once again take the gavel as Speaker of the House, there are already indications that the short-lived rebellion against her return could precipitate political consequences in 2020.
Progressive organizations are already eying possible Democratic incumbents for primaries both in safer blue districts and based on their participation in an effort to keep Pelosi from becoming speaker again.
The central target of that effort is Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who led a charge for new leadership in the House.
And now exclusive polling provided to The Daily Beast from the outfit Slingshot Strategies, in partnership with the progressive firm Data for Progress, indicates that Moulton could be vulnerable in a primary challenge.
The survey of 300 likely Democratic primary voters in Massachusetts’ 6th congressional district, conducted online from Dec. 17 to 27, found that Moulton had a 61% favorable rating. But when pitted against other prospective Democratic challengers, only 49% said that they would back him. Of those surveyed, 29% said they were not sure.
“Seth Moulton is in real political trouble over his hesitancy to vote for Pelosi,” Evan Roth Smith, co-founder of Slingshot Strategies said. “Only 49% of Democrats say they’ll vote for Moulton again in the 2020 primary, and a majority want to see unity behind Pelosi. Moulton will be forced to defend his political decision making, and is clearly vulnerable to potential primary challengers who are already registering double-digit support.”
In December, Moulton announced that he came to an agreement with Pelosi in which he’d support her return to the gavel in exchange for stipulations including term limits on House leadership.
In addition to the Pelosi squabble, there are indications in the poll that Moulton could be vulnerable on an ideological front. The survey asked voters how Moulton’s lack of support for Medicare for All—a cornerstone policy of the party’s ascendant left—would impact their primary vote. Forty-two percent said they were less likely to vote for him as a result, while only 23% said they were more likely.
“Moulton faces a real risk from his opposition to Medicare for All,” Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress told The Daily Beast. “The base is ready. When a primary challenger emerges, I’d bet on them.”
And Moulton is far from alone in this scenario.
As Dave Weigel at The Washington Post reported, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), another Pelosi critic, faces a potential 2020 challenger and a poll found that a slight majority of voters would be inclined to back someone else given Rice’s positioning on Pelosi.
McElwee also indicated that a number of other incumbent Democrats like Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) will be polled in possible match-ups.
“We’re currently in the field against right-wing Democrats like Cuellar, who have enabled the right wing while knee-capping progressives,” he said.
Other groups like Justice Democrats, the left-wing outfit that backed Democratic freshmen like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have similarly said that they will focus on primaries, largely in safer blue areas, in 2020.