The conventional wisdom holds that congressional Republicans are broken up into factions of varying sizes, including a "moderate" wing that Democrats can and should try to work with. It's a dubious proposition, in part because Republican politics has become so radicalized that today's GOP centrists are yesterday's GOP conservative hardliners.
But there's also the thorny issue of arithmetic: Just how many House Republicans make up the party's "mainstream" faction? Perhaps a little cross-referencing can help.
Yesterday offers a good place to start. On the floor was a bipartisan bill to create a Jan. 6 commission, crafted in part by a Republican with close ties to his party's leadership, who successfully convinced Democrats to make all kinds of concessions that the GOP sought. The result was a plan for an independent panel, whose membership would be divided evenly between the parties.
Republican leaders rejected it anyway and encouraged their members to kill the bipartisan agreement. As the dust settled, 35 House GOP members -- roughly 17% of the overall House Republican conference -- ignored the pressure and voted with Democrats.
From there, we can also take a look at the roll-call votes from early January, when most House Republicans voted to reject certification of Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. If we start with the GOP members who voted for the Jan. 6 commission, and subtract those who voted (at least once) against certifying Biden's win, the list of 35 House Republicans shrinks to 26 House Republicans -- or roughly 12% of the overall House GOP conference.
We can then go one step further and consider the roll-call tally from Donald Trump's impeachment -- the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. Ten House Republicans voted to hold the then-president accountable for inciting an insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, representing roughly 5% of the House GOP conference.
As it turns out, of those 10 Republican lawmakers, each of them voted either to create the Jan. 6 commission or to certify the 2020 election results. But how many GOP members supported impeachment and the bipartisan commission and certification?
Nine House Republicans:
- Liz Cheney (Wyo.)
- Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio)
- Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.)
- John Katko (N.Y.)
- Adam Kinzinger (Ill.)
- Peter Meijer (Mich.)
- Dan Newhouse (Wash.)
- Fred Upton (Mich.)
- David Valadao (Calif.)
Note, if you check the roll calls, Valadao did not vote on election certification because he was honoring COVID protocols. The California Republican nevertheless issued a written statement saying he supported certification and would've voted with the Democratic majority had he been on the floor. For the purposes of this exercise, that's good enough for me.
All of which is to say, if there's a "mainstream" faction among House Republicans, it represents roughly 4% of the overall GOP conference.
That's not much.