Pelosi Faces Reckoning With Progressive Democrats as House Majority Set to Shrink

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may face a reckoning with a growing progressive caucus as the Democratic majority in the lower chamber looks set to shrink. Early counting showed Republicans flipping seven seats against the odds.

According to the latest tally of results published by The New York Times, House Republicans have gained five seats after ousting incumbents in New Mexico, Minnesota, Florida and at least three other states.

At the same time, Democrats have only flipped two GOP-held seats, but are still poised to hold onto their majority in the House at least until the 2022 midterm elections.

Speaking to reporters on election night, Pelosi said: "Our purpose in this race was to win so that we could protect the Affordable Care Act and that we could crush the virus.

"That we could stop the spread of it, that we could reward our workers who risked their lives to save lives and now might be losing their jobs, and that we can put money in the pockets of the American people.

"So I'm very, very proud of the fact that tonight, relatively early, we're able to say that we have held the House."

But her party went into election night with several forecasts that favored its chances of extending its already sizable 232-197 majority in the lower chamber. The latest results suggest the majority will fall short of those predictions.

Politico's Jake Sherman reported that House Democrats were "confused" and "angry" with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in light of the weak election night performance.

The DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois had previously told reporters that her party was "well-positioned" to put in a good performance on Tuesday.

Bustos is one of the Democratic lawmakers struggling in a battle to hold their seat against a Republican challenger.

At the time of writing, Bustos is trailing Esther Joy King by more than 3 percentage points in Illinois' 17th District with 55 percent of the vote counted.

With a disappointing electoral performance for House Democrats as the backdrop, Pelosi will soon face an election for the Speaker role, while others in her top team face similar leadership elections in the face of an expanded progressive caucus.

The Squad—a group of progressive Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omarhas clashed with Pelosi on several issues in the past. After the election, their numbers have grown.

All four original members of The Squad—Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib—were re-elected. Now, the group has expanded.

One of the new entrants is Congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman, who won his race in New York. Another is Cori Bush, who won a Missouri district, and Mondaire Jones, who was also victorious in New York.

In the event of a smaller majority, a larger progressive caucus would carry more weight in a Democratic House.

Nancy Pelosi House Democrat Speaker Majority
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to media at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill on November 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Erin Scott - Pool/Getty Images