The politically motivated attack on her husband, in which Ms. Pelosi was the target, as well as an election that Democrats view as a rejection of extremism by voters, has also bolstered Ms. Pelosi in the eyes of many of her colleagues.
“The good will and respect for her in the caucus is at an all-time high,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, noting the behind-the-scenes role she played on Jan. 6, when she showed composure under fire while Congress was under direct attack, and the resilience she has demonstrated after the attack on her husband.
“I think she understands we’re still in a very perilous time, despite good outcomes,” Mr. Khanna said. “There’s a value to youth and ambition, but the value of age is it dulls the personal ambition. I have confidence that her decision is going to be what is in the interest of the country.”
At the same time, youth turnout in the election was seen as a major factor in Democratic victories, and many members have long been ready for new, younger leadership. Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, has been one of the few lawmakers to say publicly that the old guard needs to go, telling Punchbowl News on Tuesday that members are “eager for a new generation of leaders to rise.”
That has some people in Ms. Pelosi’s orbit speculating about the overlooked third option for her: staying on, but not as an elected leader.
Such an unconventional move would allow Ms. Pelosi to continue to influence Democratic strategy and serve as a resource for candidates. It would also give her more time to spend in San Francisco with her husband, Paul Pelosi, who she has said is on a long road to recovery after being assaulted in their home with a hammer, and whose condition she said would affect her plans.
“The idea that she would stay in Congress, where Democrats, new members and the White House can continue to benefit from her extraordinary talents, would be another lucky and fortunate turn for Democrats in this historic election cycle,” said Stacy Kerr, who for a decade served as a senior aide to Ms. Pelosi. “We shouldn’t expect her to follow any path other than her own.”