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As the House tries again to elect a speaker, McCarthy fails anew

The more House Republicans come to believe that Kevin McCarthy simply lacks the support he’ll need to prevail, the more they’ll consider alternatives.


There was some talk this morning that House Republican leaders, well aware of the vote totals, would try to adjourn rather than watch Kevin McCarthy fail once again in his bid for speaker. In fact, Democratic leaders expected such an effort, and encouraged their members to oppose it.

As it turns out, the recommendation wasn’t necessary: The House proceeded to try once again to elect a new speaker, and the results of the fourth ballot looked an awful lot like the results of the first three ballots. NBC News reported:

McCarthy lost his fourth bid for the speakership, falling well short of the 218 votes he needs for the post and no closer than he came on Tuesday.

McCarthy finished with 201 votes, 11 short of Democratic Leader's Hakeem Jeffries' 212.

In this instance, McCarthy actually lost a vote: Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz Indiana voted present, after having supported McCarthy three times yesterday.

For those keeping score, on the first ballot, McCarthy’s GOP opponents spread out their 19 votes among five different people. On the second, the same 19 members rallied behind Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. On the third, the 19 Republicans voted again for Jordan, but this time, they were joined by Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida — a McCarthy supporter who said he believed the incumbent GOP leader simply lacked the votes necessary to prevail.

On the fourth ballot, McCarthy’s detractors nominated Donalds — who received the same 20 votes Jordan received yesterday afternoon.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Floridian is the right’s new choice, so much as he’s the latest Republican to serve as an alternative for GOP members opposed to the party’s nominee.

And apparently, there are plenty of GOP members opposed to the party’s nominee, and at this point, they’re not budging.

The problem for McCarthy isn’t just that he’s falling far short, it’s that he’s not making any progress. It was widely assumed, including by the Californian himself, that the first ballot wouldn’t go his way, but McCarthy and his allies hoped that repeated votes would create unsustainable pressure.

Those hopes have obviously been dashed.

What’s more, McCarthy held a series of meetings after yesterday’s adjournment in which the GOP leader tried to position himself for a stronger showing today. On the fourth ballot, however, he made no progress at all.

This is more than just embarrassing: The more House Republicans, including enthusiastic McCarthy backers, come to believe that he simply lacks the support he’ll need to prevail, the more they’ll consider alternatives.

Update: On the fifth ballot, McCarthy failed by the identical margin seen on the fourth ballot.

And on the sixth ballot, the GOP leader failed again. The vote totals did not change.