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Pelosi's national popularity plummets as elections loom

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Is Nancy Pelosi a political liability in the midterm elections?

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Boehner has a lot of work to do in defining his image with female voters as well; 53 percent of Republican women have no view of the would-be speaker.

Republicans have been unrelenting in their ads linking candidates to grainy images of Pelosi. By some estimates, 200,000 ads will have been run this election cycle portraying her negatively.

Democrats, meanwhile, have advised candidates to focus like a laser on local issues and steer clear of national topics and leaders. The White House has done little to defend Pelosi, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in mid-October that Obama had gone several weeks without speaking to her.

A big chunk of Pelosi's free fall with voters appears to have come since last year. Other polls measuring her popularity show a significant increase in the number of voters rating her unfavorably in 2010. And her personal rating is far more negative than her essentially evenly divided job approval rating was in late March. At that time, just after the health-care legislation was approved, 42 percent of voters said they approved of Pelosi's job performance and 46 disapproved. But even those numbers were much more negative for the House speaker than the ones she had back in 2007.

Because of her high profile as the first woman speaker, Pelosi's popularity is inextricably tied to that of Congress, which also has sunk to historically low levels. In the Post-ABC poll, just 23 percent of registered voters approved of the way Congress has worked, the lowest recording since the eve of the 1994 midterm elections that propelled Republicans into the majority with a 52-seat pickup.

kanep@washpost.com cohenj@washpost.com


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