If those who promised to oppose her keep their word, she’ll fall short of 218 votes.
Democrats have won 228 House races and are favored in five more. Together that’s 233 seats, a gain of 40. But Mrs. Pelosi still has work to do to collect the 218 votes she’ll need when the House meets Jan. 3 to select its presiding officer.
During the midterm election campaign, 12 incumbent Democratic representatives said they would not support Mrs. Pelosi for speaker, along with 10 newly elected freshmen, plus four Democrats who lead their contests but haven’t yet been declared winners.
Democrats will likely enjoy a 15-seat margin after the remaining contests are settled, so if the 26 anti-Pelosi Democrats keep their word, Mrs. Pelosi could fall 11 votes short.
But anti-Pelosi members have an option besides voting for another Democrat. They could vote “present.” Every two “present” votes reduce the total number needed to become speaker by one. If all 26 Pelosi skeptics voted present, that would leave her with 207 Democratic votes, more than the 202 votes Republicans could muster. Mrs. Pelosi would be speaker, but badly weakened. And that might be good enough for Democratic dissidents.