Democrats didn't lose Tuesday's midterm election because voters don't like the party's message, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said — they lost because Democratic voters stayed away from the polls.
"Next year has to be the year to expand the universe of people who vote. I'm concerned that eligible voters did not vote in the election this year," Pelosi told her caucus members in a 75-minute phone call Thursday, reports The Hill
Her party had a "terrible year," she admitted, telling the caucus members that Congress has a "moral responsibility" to get voters from all parties to the polls.
"We have the magic and the resources to have massive voter registration over the country — not just places that might benefit the Democrats," she said. "I don't care if they vote for a Republican, just so [long as] they vote, get in the game, are counted, and people will pay attention to what their concerns are."
Pelosi easily won her re-election bid in California, and said in a letter Wednesday afternoon that she would like to remain leader of the House Democratic Caucus as well, reports Roll Call
House Democrats would likely have had difficulty taking back the chamber even with more voters out, however, as several factors were working against them. President Barack Obama's popularity ratings
have been dropping all year, and many Americans are frustrated by the economy and concerned over the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Ebola outbreak, and the thousands of immigrants who crossed the nation's southern border earlier this year.
With Obama's dwindling ratings, many Republicans connected House races with the president, and many Democrats are blaming Obama as a result.
"We lost all over because people weren't motivated to come out to vote," New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler said during the call, a source told The Hill. "And the whole campaign — not just the campaign, but the whole zeitgeist for years — has been the president who has the bully pulpit refusing to attack the Republicans, refusing to differentiate, refusing to defend his own policies."
Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro also complained that Republicans made their races a national, rather than local, issue.
"We had base voters who were disappointed in the president and who did not come out. ... But what happened in the House was not a result of a House strategy," she said.
Pelosi still believes, however, that Democrats can one day take back the House, even though current district maps won't be redrawn until 2020 and the next Congress to be affected won't take office until at least 2023.
She says she remains concerned about the damage, as she frames it, that Republicans will do over the next eight years.
"I don't know any children that can wait that long for us to do the job for them, any families that can withstand, not only this past few years, but eight years projected," she said. "We can make the change in the voting environment in the year 2015. It's our responsibility."
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